Oh 5G, who would have thought you will be this vilified in the year 2020 by the humans you thought should be embracing you naturally? Well if you’re an advocate for the ultra-fast solution you may be thinking this. But the past week and months have brought about things that has brought the 5G technology into the main arguments and it largely has to do with safety and preservation of the human race, yes you read right.
In Britain, some have vandalised and even burned 5G equipment, in America celebrities and other religious leaders are beginning to doubt the intentions of those pushing for 5G and then in Africa and to be precise Nigeria politicians, clerics and citizens are already coming out against the technology.
But how did we get here so fast? Well its been there but just merely as a conspiracy theory but with the novel Coronavirus threatening our collective existence, many now say they’ve been right all along about what 5G does to the human immune system.
So let’s start by addressing the immune system issue and we will star by hearing what health experts have to say. Speaking to the BBC, Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading said “The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn’t stand up to scrutiny,” Dr Clarke says.
“Your immune system can be dipped by all sorts of thing – by being tired one day, or not having a good diet. Those fluctuations aren’t huge but can make you more susceptible to catching viruses.”
“Radio waves can disrupt your physiology as they heat you up, meaning your immune system can’t function. But [the energy levels from] 5G radio waves are tiny and they are nowhere near strong enough to affect the immune system. There have been lots of studies on this.”
Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol also told the BBC that “The present epidemic is caused by a virus that is passed from one infected person to another. We know this is true. We even have the virus growing in our lab, obtained from a person with the illness. Viruses and electromagnetic waves that make mobile phones and internet connections work are different things. As different as chalk and cheese.” In other words, it is scientifically and practically impossible for 5G to be the cause of the virus.
Ok enough from the health experts, lets look at where 5G falls on the electromagnetic spectrum and for those who aren’t technical enough, it’s simply the range of frequency of electromagnetic waves (responsible for the signal you get on your phone, TV, Wi-Fi etc) and their wavelengths (how far they can travel which depends on the frequency itself). We know for example from basic Physics that the bigger the frequency value, the shorter it can travel. 5G will use spectrum in the existing LTE frequency range (600 MHz to 6 GHz) and also in millimeter wave bands (24–86 GHz). Let’s leave it that since we’re not in class.
But here is what those who say 5G makes you sick don’t consider, 5G, 4G and those before it all belong to a class called the non-ionising waves on the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, let’s see image below;
You see X-rays, Ultra-violet rays which the sun readily provides belong to the ionising class and as such put human lives at risk even more than 5G and that’s a fact and even they don’t give birth to any kind of virus. Viruses just like the HIV enter the human or animal body and reproduce and then take over immune system and where the system is taken over completely, it can be fatal. The usually cannot live very long outside the living thing and like the Coronavirus are transmitted through droplets when the carrier coughs or sneezes.
That said, there are legitimate concerns about the technology itself and they don’t have to do with the Coronavirus. One big one is privacy. 5G will bring about a whole new era of applications and devices that we never knew and at the centre of this would be artificial intelligence and how it will change the way we live for ever. Imagine billions of devices (Internet of Things) communicating almost all at the same time over the network globally and each transmitting and receiving billions of data per minute, what measures do we have in place that they don’t end up on the dark web. These concerns have been there but will increase. When AI takes over most part of our duties like work, shopping, relationships etc, it will affect the way we do things and the fear of this is making privacy and health advocates speak out. Even Elon Musk-one of the big proponents of AI is calling for its regulation and 5G will make it possible big time. Then there is facial recognition technology which is already here but will expand in usage globally with 5G and this can be scary to many that cameras will step up their game from just recording your activities to identifying you and self-reporting to law enforcement agencies.
So, there are many concerns and I can’t list them all out in this article but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. 5G is expected to create 3 million new jobs in the Unites States alone and about 23 million globally when it is fully onboarded in a world where we need more job creating ideas. These jobs ate to come from new industries that will arise as a result like real time banking, self-driving cars, smart factories, AR and VR in healthcare, AR and VR shopping, smarter homes and real-time banking among others.
The conspiracy theories around 5G was so ripe this past week that telecom companies and regulators alike have come out to debunk.
Here’s a statement from the Nigerian Communications Commission;
NCC CLEARS DOUBTS OVER 5G AND OTHER SECURITY RELATED MATTERS
In view of the recent development in which misleading materials with no proven evidence being circulated to link CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19 with 5G Technology, it has become imperative for the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to provide the following clarifications;
Firstly, there is no correlation between 5G Technology and COVID-19. 5G is an advancement on today’s 4G technology designed to transform the world positively.
Secondly, there is no deployment of 5G in Nigeria at the moment. The NCC back in November 2019 approved trial test for 5G for a period of three (3) months and that the trial has been concluded and installation decommissioned.
The trial among others was to study and observe any health or security challenges the 5G network might present. Relevant stakeholders including members of the security agencies were invited to participate during the trial.
The NCC will continue to maintain its policy of technology neutrality and will continue to encourage Service providers to deploy the best technology that will meet the needs of the society in a secured and friendly manner.
The following are some Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is 5G ?
Ans: 5G is a fifth generation of mobile technology which is an improvement of today’s 4G technology with enhanced capabilities. 5G technology provides the platform for new and emerging technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data to improve the way we live and work.
- Do we have 5G network in Nigeria now?
Ans: No there is no 5G network in Nigeria at the moment. What we had was a trial test for 3 months which has since been concluded.
- When are we expecting 5G in Nigeria?
Ans. No exact time frame but when conditions are right and all doubts are cleared.
- Do we have spectrum for 5G in Nigeria?
Ans. Yes, particularly the millimetre wave spectrum from 24GHz and above are available.
- Have we given out 5G spectrum to operators?
Ans. No. It will be auctioned at the appropriate time.
- Are there 5G deployment around the world?
Ans. Yes, in countries like South Korea, China, USA, Germany and others since middle 2019.
- Is the Radiation from 5G different from those of 2G, 3G and 4G?
Ans. No, they all belong to the same class of Non-ionizing Radiation.
- Who is going to Allocate spectrum for 5G in Nigeria?
Ans. The National Frequency Management Council (NFMC) Chaired by the Hon Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has the responsibility for allocating bulk spectrum for various services.
- Should I be concerned about 5G technology?
Ans. No, nothing to worry about. Safety and human health are top priority in the design and deployment of 5G.
- What are the benefits of 5G ?
Ans. 5G technology will transform the world by connecting everything with everybody. It will create millions of jobs, it will add billions of dollars to the economy (GDP) and can solve some of our problems such as insecurity and improve governance and efficiency in the society.
- Is 5G causing CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19?
Ans. No, there is no link what so ever between 5G and CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19.
- Should I ignore all the negative narratives I am hearing about 5G ?
Ans. No, but rely on information from world Standards making bodies such as WHO, ITU, IEEE and industry experts for advice when in doubt.
- Is there Standard limit set for Radiation from mobile devices?
Ans. Yes, there is Radiation emission limits set by the International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) below which the radiation is considered safe for humans.
- Are the mobile network operators in Nigeria conforming to the Radiation emissions limits ?
Ans. Yes, the NCC has been regularly conducting measurements of Radiation emissions from Base stations across the country and they are all well below the set limits.
- Is 5G same as Fibre cable?
Ans. No, fibre cable is a terrestrial technology for broadband that existed for decades while 5G is a new mobile technology for enhanced quality of service as explained in Q1 above.
- Are there other sources of Radiation apart from mobile Base stations?
Ans. Yes, there are other sources of Radiation which include television stations, radio broadcasts stations, Wi-Fi and so on. They all belong to the class of Radiation considered to be safe for humans when operated below the set limits.
- Who owns 5G ?
Ans. 5G is not owned by anybody but collection of technologies, Standards and processes agreed at the international level by Standards making bodies.
- Has NCC issued licenses for 5G in Nigeria ?
Ans. No, NCC has not issued any licence for 5G in Nigeria. NCC is technology neutral as such we don’t license technology but assigns spectrum to operators for deployment of any service when allocated by NFMC.
- Why are some operators rolling out fibre during the lockdown period?
Ans. As a result of the lockdown, the amount of voice and data usage has increased by huge amounts and there is need to expand the network to provide optimum quality of service to users sitting at home. Telecom is also critical for information dissemination during the lockdown.
Dr. Henry Nkemadu
Director, Public Affairs
Nigerian Communications Commission
05 April 2020