How Safe Is 5G?

IT industry body establishes Chartered CIO Council
November 8, 2019

How Safe Is 5G?

By Samkelo Zake – April 05, 2020

Perceived 5G Health Hazard

All over social media and in the news we are bombarded by inaccurate and unwarranted fears of wireless technology 5G.

What is 5G?

In simple terms, 5G is the next generation of wireless network technology that will fuel innovation and transform our lives. Compared to 4G LTE, 5G, can transmit high amounts of data more efficiently. The diagram below shows a summary of what 5G will bring.

5G requires tremendous network density, access to high-band spectrum, massive Multiple Input/multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology, advanced network planning & dimensioning  and more technological features. Typical speeds depending on the channel size and frequency band are –  average of 150Mbps – 300Mbps with peaks at 900Mbps – 5Gbps+. RF Planning is critical to realise these speeds as load could degrade the network significantly leading to customer complaints.

5G networks can be built in different ways from multiple bands of wavelength frequency spectrum low-band, mid-band, and high-band.That means better network reliability, faster downloads, and support for more connected devices than ever before. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will be realised.

Is 5G Safe?

5G is safe.

In the last couple of weeks there has been an amplified fear mongering about perceived health hazards of 5G. Some even link COVID-19 to 5G, how shocking!

This is a lot of propaganda without scientific evidence. These are old fears that started at the beginning of GSM (and later when iBurst was deployed. Remember those who covered themselves with foil?) and no one died or suffered because of the radiation from the systems. The old propaganda is now being amplified. We are getting bombarded with anecdotes and videos. Truth is the radio waves used in mobile technologies are non-ionising which means it lacks sufficient energy to break apart deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and cause cellular damage. Besides, no one will be sitting centimeters next to a 5G base station for extended time where they can feel the microwave heat. The CPE transmits a lot less power and the heating effect is not harmful. The exposure of the community to the microwave heat is so small and no temperature rise can be observed.

The radiation of radiofrequency  electromagnetic fields is highly regulated. The technology used in mobile and broadband networks complies with the specifications provided by leading international standard bodies like ITU, ETSI etc. In addition there are independent associations (with scientists) whose aim is to protect people and the environment against adverse effects of radiation. One leading association is ICNIRP.

“ICNIRP is an association registered in Munich, Germany, as a non-profit organization with a scientific mission (Statutes). It is formally recognized as an official collaborating non-state actor by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO. ICNIRP develops and disseminates science-based advice on limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation (NIR). Experts from different countries and disciplines such as biology, epidemiology, medicine, physics, and chemistry, work together with and within ICNIRP to assess the risk of NIR exposure and provide exposure guidance.ICNIRP experts base their advice on scientific publications about biological effects and action mechanisms of radiation, for the whole NIR frequency range. ICNIRP’s protection advice is formulated in its Guidelines, Reviews and Statements, which are publicly and freely available online” – ICNIRP. They have declared no conflict of interest.According to their latest 2020 guideline,  ICNIRP has cleared 5G as safe.

The writer has over two decades of experience in radio frequency and microwave network design, deployments, maintenance and support. Samkelo Zake – Chief Technical Officer – KONECTA

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