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BIA testifies against bill to restrict telecommunication technology

BIA testifies against bill to restrict telecommunication technology

Opposition expressed before House Science, Technology and Energy Committee

Testimony of Rick Fabrizio

Business & Industry Association

HB 1644

House Science, Tech & Energy Committee

January 18, 2022

I am Rick Fabrizio, director of communications and public policy for the Business & Industry Association, New Hampshire's statewide chamber of commerce and leading business advocate.

HB 1644, if passed, would greatly slow the state’s efforts to expand high-speed internet access to all of New Hampshire. BroadbandNow ranks New Hampshire as the 23rd most well-connected state in the nation as of last fall. High-speed internet access is particularly lacking in our state’s rural areas, impairing the ability to conduct telehealth services, remote learning and being able to run a business.

This bill would require telecommunication antennas be placed at least 1,640 feet from residentially zoned areas, parks, playgrounds, hospitals, nursing homes, day care centers and schools. All of these could benefit from 5G. The problem is 5G wavelengths have a range of about 1,000 feet

While the state is focused on expanding broadband access to more citizens, HB 1644 would discourage new investment and unravel years of technology investment and innovation. This bill is counteractive to consumer demand for faster, more reliable broadband service. Expanding high-speed internet across New Hampshire is vital economic development, especially its ability to bring new opportunities to small towns. It might even ease some of the state’s housing crisis as populations can spread out. CTIA reports when moving, Americans rank reliable wireless service at the top of their lists.

Accenture reports America’s wireless companies are ready to invest $275 billion into building 5G networks across the nation. CTIA reports that investment will create 3 million new jobs and spur $500 billion in economic growth nationwide. Yet, passage of HB 1644 would make New Hampshire the only state in the nation to restrict investment in broadband.

Most of the rhetoric behind this bill focuses on 5G but HB 1644 is troubling due to its lack of detail and ambiguity. In using the term “telecommunications antennae,” the bill could restrict all radio frequency emitted by these transmitters including WiFi and even cell towers themselves. There are already tens of thousands of public WiFi transmitters mounted in public places throughout the state. Cell signal coverage remains spotty in far too many areas.

The New Hampshire Commission on the Health and Environmental Impacts of 5G and Wireless Technology’s 2020 report claims cellphone radiation, including 5G, poses a significant threat to human health and the environment. The World Health Organization and U.S. Food and Drug Administration refute this claim. This is noted in the commission’s minority report, which we have made available today.

Restricting the expansion of telecommunications could have a health impact though. According to National Emergency Number Association, an estimated 240 million calls are made to 9-1-1 in the U.S. each year. In many areas, 80% or more are from wireless devices.

Broadband is so critical today it should rank as essential infrastructure like railroads in the 19th century and highways in the 20th century. The state should continue to support its expansion and not enact bad policy to restrict it.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify and I am happy to answer any questions.

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