Monday

What Do We Know About 5G?


The nuts and bolts of 5G – background for the non tech-savvy 

(prepared for the #GeneralElection2019 #Pause5G Campaign )


5G

  • Is the fifth-generation (“5G”) digital cellular network technology (how wireless devices such as mobile phones and tablets receive and transmit information)
  • It follows 2G, 3G and 4G
  • 5G gives faster connections with higher capacity of data
  • 5G is already live in many cities across the UK e.g. Manchester and Birmingham
  • 5G is widely used for private networks 

Cells and antennae

  • Service areas covered by providers are divided into small geographical areas called cells. 
  • Wireless devices communicate by radio waves with a local antenna and an automated transceiver (transmitter and receiver) in the cell, over frequency channels.
  • Local antennae within the cell are connected with the telephone network and the internet with a high bandwidth optical fibre.

5G waves and new antennae

  • 5G use millimetre long waves
  • They have a shorter range than previous waves used (4G, 3G) so each cell will have more antennae (on average a few hundred metres apart)
  • Antennae are several cms tall unlike large antennae previously used
  • Multiple antennae in a cells send mm long waves to a wireless device e.g. mobile phone simultaneously – a technique known as beam forming
  • 4G supports up to 100,000 devices per km squared, whereas 5G supports up to 1,000,000 devices per km squared
  • New spectrum has been allocated to 5G in order to support increased requirements; in March 2018, EU lawmakers agreed to open up 3.6 and 26 GHz bands by 2020 (compared to 700-2500 MHz used by 4G)

Concerns

Interference

  • The spectrum used for 5G will be close to that used by weather and Earth observation satellites – this has already caused significant interference – it impairs weather prediction performance 
  • More harmful weather events cannot be picked up – this impacts on national security
  • Many organisations including US Navy and NASA have raised concerns 
  • Surveillance
  • As of early 2019, several countries including the UK have taken action to restrict or eliminate use of Chinese equipment  due to espionage fears
  • GCHQ are massively involved to monitor surveillance standards

Health

  • April 2019, Brussels blocked a 5G trial in the city because of radiation laws
  • In Geneva, Switzerland, a planned upgrade to 5G was stopped for the same reason
  • Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is not scientifically recognised, but effects such as headaches and neurasthenia have been claimed form Wi-Fi and 4G as seen in a report by the World Health Organization
  • This presents concerns with 5G which uses higher microwave frequencies from 2.6 GHz to 28 GHz (compared to 700-2500 MHz used by 4G)
  • Critics say wave frequencies used by 5G have not been subjected to substantial scientific research
  • In January 2019, over 180 scientists and medical doctors wrote a letter to officials in the EU demanding a moratorium on 5G coverage in Europe until potential hazards for human health have been investigated 
  • The European Commissions’ Scientific Committees on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) reported in the “Statement on emerging health and environmental issues (2918) “5G networks will soon be rolled out for mobile phone and smart device users. How exposure to electromagnetic fields could affect humans remains a controversial area. Studies have not yielded clear evidence of the impact on mammals, birds or insects. The lack of clear evidence to inform the development of exposure guidelines to 5G technology leaves open the possibility of unintended biological consequences”
  • In US, many senators have raised concerns over health impacts on human and animals

[All research references available by emailing paul.crosland[at]gmail.com]

More links on the Pause5G Twitter account @GPause5

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