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The 5G Myths: Are 5G Towers Actually Safe?




  • 5G—the fifth generation of broadband cell networks—is the latest technology in wireless communication.
  • Borne from the previous 4G LTE, the 5G technology offers better speed and efficiency, resulting in wider service areas and better connectivity.
  • Unfortunately, this improved performance gave birth to beliefs that 5G is dangerous.
  • Experts have long debunked the unfounded theories but many misconceptions continue to circulate.
  • You can still check out where these beliefs originated and maybe decide for yourself whether you will believe them.

Whether you heard it from a friend or a family member, saying that 5G is dangerous is nothing but a conspiracy.

If you aren’t convinced yet, look at those who believed that 5G towers caused the coronavirus pandemic. Despite burning over 70 cell towers in the UK earlier this year, the pandemic persisted anyway.

So, what exactly is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation broadband mobile network. As the latest global wireless standard after the 4G network, it promises faster data speed, lower latency, more stability, and higher capacity. With this new network, connecting virtually everything—from machines to devices—is possible because of the higher performance and efficiency levels it promises.

What are the technologies used in making 5G a reality?

5G uses the principles of OFDM (Orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing). With this method, digital signals are modulated across various channels, resulting in lesser interference. Along with the OFDM principles, 5G uses NR air interface and better bandwidth technologies like sub-6 GHz and mmWave.

5G vs. 4G: What are the similarities and differences between the two?

5G OFDM also operates on the same mobile networking principles of 4G LTE. However, because of the new NR air interface, it has a higher degree of flexibility and scalability. That said, it could provide more high-speed access to more people and things for different purposes.
Since 5G uses sub-6 GHz and mmWave, it offers more bandwidth options as opposed to 4G’s sub-3 GHz.

The extreme capacity allows for a faster and better mobile broadband service and better service area coverage when compared to 4G LTE. The NR air interface designs like that of the TDD subframe also helps, particularly in mission-critical communications and IoT.

How different is 5G from the previous generations of mobile networks?

To understand this better, let’s take a look at the previous generations of mobile networks:

First-generation – 1G: This mobile network gave birth to the analog voice in the ’80s.
Second generation – 2G: This network from the early ’90s introduced digital voice and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA).
Third generation – 3G: The advent of mobile data (CDMA2000) started in the early ’00s.
Fourth-generation – 4G LTE: The mobile network of 2010. It started the development towards better connectivity and ushered the ‘fearsome’ 5G.
Fifth-generation – 5G: This ‘fearsome’ mobile network is a faster, more unified, and more capable air interface designed to extend the user experiences. By deploying new models and delivering high-speed services with superior reliability and negligible latency, this new wireless technology expands the mobile ecosystem into new realms of interconnected machines and devices. It’s impact: the creation of reliable and safer transportation, remote healthcare services, precision agriculture, and digitized logistics.

The Myths of the 5G network

Still, these facts about 5G are not enough to dispel any some of the scary-sounding claims out there. So, here are some of the most outrageous myths about 5G and why you need to forget about them.

Myth #1: 5G and the radio frequency (RF) waves it uses cause cancer.

The waves used in wireless communications are using non-ionizing radiation, unlike X-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet rays. That said, it is easy to understand where the fear originated. However, though the RF waves from 5G are of higher frequency, it doesn’t mean that it is 100% safe.

However, as the American Cancer Society (ACS) says there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support this claim. 5G uses GHz radio frequency waves, and the GHz is still a far cry from the exahertz that most harmful radiation use.

Myth #2: 5G towers can spread COVID-19.

It sounds laughable, but the fear that 5G towers generate is real. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), this rumor is actually among the most popular one about the novel coronavirus. Its origin: shoddy research published on PubMed on July 16, 2020.

The paper in question was entitled “5G Technology and induction of coronavirus in skin cells.” It was published by a team of scientists from both the Department of Dermatology and Venereology at the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University in Russia and the Department of Nuclear, Sub-nuclear and Radiation Physics at G. Marconi University in Rome, Italy. The paper claims the millimeter waves in this new wireless network can help colonize the virus (that requires a radio signal as its primary intermediary) to replicate itself in the human body. It’s a virus, sure, but it does not apply to COVID-19. This claim is still unfounded, and the paper has long been retracted, but it still failed to save a lot of the new towers across Europe.

Myth #3: China is spying on other countries under the guise of this new wireless network.

This belief may be a valid conspiracy theory, but experts say it’s still unlikely.

Here’s what the conspiracy theory proposes: Chinese companies with ties to the communist Chinese government, working on 5G cell towers, can spy and transmit sensitive information via a “backdoor” in the wireless communication equipment.

Unfortunately, when the heads of major telecom companies like Scott Petty, chief technology officer at Vodafone UK, say, “we don’t trust anybody,” it only feeds the suspicion that someone is inherently trying to tamper with the 5G technologies.

To make matters worse, former US President Donald Trump also attempted to block Huawei—a large Chinese technology company—from securing contracts to build 5G infrastructures in the US.

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