Is 5G dangerous for our health and environment or is it safe? A Deloitte study carried out in 2020 in 12 European countries says that 39% of participants believe that 5G is safe for health, while 21% think it is harmful and 40% are unsure. The debate hosted by the Section for Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and the Information Society (TEN) on 20 July 2021 looked at the benefits and drawbacks of 5G technology, especially in terms of its impact on society and the environment, and taking into consideration European citizens' concerns.
"In recent years, civil society organisations in the EU and other countries have warned about potential negative effects and crises that might be triggered by the unbalanced relationship between the rights and interests of individuals, on the one hand, and those of corporations and public institutions, on the other", said Baiba Miltoviča, president of the TEN section.
5G networks are already up and running
The number of live 5G networks has increased significantly, both in and outside Europe since the beginning of 2019. By the end of September 2020, 5G commercial services had been rolled out in 18 (EU-27 plus the UK) countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
The fifth generation of telecommunication systems will be a critical building block of our digital economy and society in the next decade. Consumers can expect better mobile services, new IoT-enabled applications for better energy management, improved safety and engaging entertainment. ECOPNET (European Cooperation and Partnership Network) gives significant importance to transparent and informative communication strategy through the EU on this issue.
The European Commission has already addressed the issue of 5G network cybersecurity, but has focused less on its impact on society and the environment. While opinions in the scientific community diverge, it is generally agreed that 5G warrants further study and exploration: there is no doubt that the new frequencies mean new impacts and forms of interaction with the human body.
"Together with the emerging technologies it facilitates, 5G brings uncertainty, scientific risk and effects that are still invisible and have not been properly evaluated. We need suitable anticipatory governance, applying the precautionary principle to the European legislative. It is time for the electronic communications industry to be sustainable and responsible, just like other business sectors", said Dumitru Fornea, rapporteur for the EESC opinion currently being produced on The societal and ecological impact of the 5G ecosystem.
5G is not a new technology per se, but is an extension of existing technologies (from 1G to 4G) based on radio access networks (RAN) and will exist alongside them. There will be a mixed network of networks: a greater number of more varied radio frequency bands, a range of devices that exchange data and a plethora of interactions with users.
5G technology should allow for wireless hyperconnectivity, making it possible to connect a huge number of devices at a much faster transfer speed. The new capabilities are needed for self-driving cars, virtual reality, augmented reality and the "tactile internet". 5G technology will also speed up the transition to Industry 4.0 and facilitate the development of applications based on artificial intelligence.
Source: European Economic and Social Committee News