Verizon launches 5G service in Boston, but what are the potential drawbacks?

BOSTON — Boston, Houston and Sioux Falls, S.D. are cities that wouldn't seem to have much in common – but now they do. Verizon launched 5G wireless service in each municipality on Tuesday.

5G promises a lightning-fast internet experience, but some fear it will come at a cost to health.

Say goodbye to buffering and the spinning wheel of download progress. The rollout of 5G in Boston has begun.

"We're surrounding the Fenway Park area," said David Weissmann, a spokesman for Verizon. "We've also got some coverage at the museum, as well as at a couple of the other universities."

The 'we' in all of this is Verizon, and an expansion of 5G to other parts of the city is a given.

"So 5G offers incredible speed and massive bandwidth," Weissmann said.

Weissmann showed Boston 25 News a velocity comparison between 4G and 5G using a couple of apps on his phone.

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"So that's showing us 1.1 gigabytes per second on the download," Weissman said. "The fastest internet connection you could possibly get at home is a gigabit."

Weissmann says 5G will likely usher in new forms of commerce and applications, much as 4G was able to support such business ideas as uber.

On a practical level, 5G will pull movies and shows down in moments.

5G's higher speed comes with the disadvantage of transmission over a shorter distance, which means you can't be too far from a node to get the 5G experience.

That's why several 5G nodes are mounted on and around Fenway Park. For Cece Doucette of Ashland, that is an ominous sign of progress.

For years, she's been working to get legislation passed in Massachusetts to study the health effects of the radiation emitted by wireless antennas and devices.

"They're putting 5G small cell antennas outside of people's homes at the curb, and their goal is to put them every two to 12 houses," Doucette said.

She uses a device to measure what she says are harmful waves coming off wireless devices.

"The message is not no technology," she said. "The message is safe technology."

And the prospect of a 5G antenna in someone's front yard, well that's got Doucette recommending device users reach instead for the old ethernet cable.