Perhaps you’ve read it on the internet, heard it from a friend, or a random post on Instagram: People consider that 5G — the fifth-generation of wireless mobile networks — could be dangerous to public health.
But that’s a baseless theory.
Everyone is talking about the 5G technology. 5G towers are telecommunication sites that provide ultra-fast mobile networking into the hand of consumers all over the world. The 5G infrastructure is functionally different from cell phone towers that we see around us. It has the potential to boost wireless signals by at least ten times the current speed of 4G.
5G operates in a high-frequency band of the wireless spectrum. Currently, all mobile devices operate at frequencies below 6 GHz. In contrast, 5G will potentially operate in frequencies from 600 MHz and beyond, including the millimeter-wave frequency range that is between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Since higher frequency radio waves are much shorter and cannot penetrate walls or other obstructions, the 5G network will be built on small cell site technology with towers as close as 500 feet apart.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the baseless claims on 5G have gotten even worse, with individuals making even more conspiracy theories suggesting that there’s a link between COVID-19 and the deployment of 5G towers. The concerns have even resulted in people burning down around 80 mobile network towers in the United Kingdom.
Why are some individuals concerned about the 5G technology while others look forward to accessing it? Why do 5G towers seem to build so much fear, ambiguity, and doubt among people?
Why are People Frightened by 5G Towers?
It’s a good question. However, most of the information that conspiracy theorists publish on the internet relates to radiation. First, radiation is energy, and it doesn’t come in the form of harmful waves from a nuclear accident, like the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster or the Chernobyl disaster. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) refers to radiation as “electromagnetic waves.”
5G and its predecessors operate along the electromagnetic spectrum, functioning in the form of waves. Here are some of the most famous conspiracy theories, and they’re patently incorrect.
1. 5G Causes Cancer
The American Cancer Society highlighted that there aren’t enough scientific studies to claim that RF waves emitted from cellular towers are dangerous. However, this doesn’t mean that RF waves have been proven to be entirely safe. Most telecommunication companies agree that strong evidence is needed to help conclude this, especially for any long-term side effects.
The waves that enable broadband or wireless communications are known to be “non-ionizing radiation.” This means that they do not damage the DNA in the body. However, there are stronger forms of radiation that can potentially result in cancer or other life-threatening illnesses. The harmful ionizing radiation includes x-rays, UV rays, gamma rays, and alpha and beta particles.
Because 5G operates in higher frequency and is much stronger than 4G or LTE, it’s evident where these conspiracy theories originate. Remember that 5G won’t exceed 100 GHz in frequency in most cases, which is far from the ionizing radiation measured in exahertz (EHz).
2. 5G Towers Spread Coronavirus
As outlandish as it may seem, some people believe that coronavirus can be spread through 5G towers. The World Health Organization (WHO) keeps an account of all the myths about COVID-19, and this particular one might hold the topmost position.
5G towers do not transmit COVID-19. The disease is spread through the respiratory droplets of an infected person. Moreover, people can also be infected by touching contaminated hands to their eyes, mouth, or nose.
According to a study by research firm Grand View Research, the global 5G infrastructure market was valued at US$1.9 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach US$496.6 billion by 2027. Over the coming months, the hype around 5G towers, their location, the technology behind it, and the potential health risks is only going to intensify. But as 5G towers gain more popularity, and the demand for coverage increases, the public outlook on 5G technology will probably change.