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The problem with 5G

hand touching 5G phone

February’s blog was all about the introduction of 5G. Having heralded how wonderful this was going to be for us all in terms of faster broadband, we ended with the caveat that for every up there’s a down and that 5G carried with it a host of potential health problems. 

Far be it for us to in any way not support progress, especially in our own field, but it’s always worth considering the cost of such progress and how we feel about its side effects. The damage that radio waves can do to a human body has long been argued, and most of us are now prepared to take on board that it’s probably not a great idea to have a mobile phone pressed to one’s brain for several hours a day. Personally I get the start of a headache if I’m on a call for longer than 10 minutes or so, which may not in itself be bad for me but does tend to act as an alert of a potential problem. More pertinent to 5G and wireless transmitters generally is a local mountain with several of these beaming out from the top. By the time I’m within about 200m of the summit I always feel very definitely ill. Others don’t feel it as much as I do...

Why tell you about that?  Well, as mentioned, as we rush towards faster and better there’s always the risk of leaving behind or quietly shovelling under the carpet the potential downsides of progress, and 5G does have a number of these. The thing about these potential downsides is that all they carry...potential. A recent study exposed rats to nine hours of broadband type radiation a day in bursts of 10 minutes on / 10 minutes off for two years. At the end researchers found an increase in the rate of brain and heart tumours, but only when rates of radiation above Government approved levels were employed. And only in the male rats. 

So what’s the problem?

The problem could be that 5G uses very much higher frequencies than 4G. They’re frequencies that haven’t been much used to date because they don’t carry data particularly well, unless, that is, there’s an awful lot of data transmitters involved. And that could be the source of the problem. At the moment, if you choose to avoid a transmitter because you want to avoid any risks just in case, or prefer not to live with a headache, you can. Transmitters are well spaced. Some “specialists” suggest that denser populated urban areas may need one transmitter per 12 houses. Smaller, less powerful transmitters, but a huge number of them, all close to where people live. Worth worrying about? Maybe!

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