The future is here, yet many are unwilling to open their door to it. Yes, that’s right: 5G has arrived.
Yesterday mark the first rollout of the next generation 5G mobile network in the United Kingdom by mobile network EE. Although much awaited, the rollout was exclusive to areas in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester. The UK now joins a growing list of pioneering countries implementing the latest technology besides Switzerland, Finland, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, China, South Korea (the first country to introduce 5G on a large scale) and more.
So, what makes 5G so exciting? Well, for starters, users can expect higher connection speeds, better response times and faster downloads. This means downloading 4K movies in a matter of seconds. However, amidst the excitement, there is widespread debate and controversy that surrounds the technology, some of which calls to question the safety of the network.
How Safe is 5G?
With all new technology, fearmongering comes with the territory even if there are no facts to back it up. However, in this case, there may be some plausible concerns that have gone unheeded, such as the exposure of electromagnetic radiation which could harm the population and the environment. More than 180 scientists from 36 countries have appealed to the European Union in the hopes that the network will be abandoned. While many EU member states are either in the process, trialling or testing the roll out of 5G, Brussels has decided to halt the expansion of the network in car manufacturing in favour of tried-and-tested Wifi. Other countries, such as the Netherlands, have called for an independent investigation on the potential dangers.
Yet it doesn’t stop there. Meteorologists have concerns of their own like the anxieties on whether the network can disrupt weather forecasts due to higher radio frequencies that are far more intense than 4G. According to some experts, the data could potentially be affected by 5G and provide wrong information that could lead to important weather forecasts being discarded.
Steeped in Controversy
While the discussion around 5G doesn’t seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon, not all of it is focused on the possible health risks. Recently, the United States President Donald Trump banned US tech companies from using Huawei, the 5G leader, due to national security. Allegations claimed that a Chinese vendor may obtain backdoors used by the Chinese government as surveillance against the United States.
The United Kingdom has expressed its own fears with a new report from the Henry Jackson Society, a neoconservative foreign policy think tank, expressing that the Huawei had ‘long been accused of espionage.’ However, since this all coincides with the ongoing and heavily publicised trade war between America and China, following by the declaration from Trump pronouncing the US ‘…must win the race to 5G’, it is probably best to take this with a grain of salt.
In the meantime, one thing that is certain is that, with faster technology, businesses and the general public can stand to benefit greatly. Should this new wave of modernisation be encouraged and equally regulated before launch or should we take a leap of faith? If you live in Vienna, London or Seoul, you may just find out first.