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Is 5G connectivity spreading novel coronavirus? No and No, again

Amritanshu Mukherjee     April 8, 2020

The world is currently battling a deadly pandemic but the telecom industry is fighting one of its own -- one that's unique and grew out of myths. In some developed countries where 5G networks have started mushrooming, a common notion is doing rounds on the web, suggesting that these next-generation network is helping the novel coronavirus in its cause. And before explanations reach the masses, we have news reports showing damaged 5G towers.

In countries like the UK, where COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire, some rumours have been going around suggesting that the newly installed 5G networks are causing the virus to spread rapidly. It is believed that the radiation from 5G towers is causing the virus to propagate easily and affect more. Some celebrities have also bought this and are asking followers to switch to 4G or older network technologies.

Is this true? Is 5G helping the novel coronavirus spread even more? Even though India is yet to see 5G towers popping up in localities, it is always better to know the technicalities and whether it has anything to do with a biological virus.

5G spreading COVID-19? Myth busted

What is the rumour?

It is believed that 5G networks are helping the novel coronavirus to spread. The radiation from the network is causing the virus to spread rapidly among humans living in areas where 5G towers are installed. As a result, several 5G towers in the UK have been torched amidst rising concerns.

In Australia, a petition has been signed by 27,000 people, urging the government to stop deploying 5G mobile towers as the radiation is believed to be harming the immune system negatively. The Ruby Princess cruiseliner case is also linked to network radiation, suggesting that the onboard Wi-Fi networks have made the ship radiation saturated, which has helped the virus to 600 people.

What is the truth?

5G technology and novel coronavirus are completely unrelated. As of now, science says there's no link between these two. Novel Coronavirus spreads from human-to-human contact, which is why most of the world is observing lockdowns on a national level. 5G technology has nothing to do with how this virus spreads.

Isn't the radiation from 5G harmful?

The human body deals with radiations of various kinds on a daily basis. Radiation comes from the sun in the form of sunlight. Radiation also comes from X-Ray machines. Radiation comes out of our phones and even the mobile towers.

In case of 5G, the technology relies on high-frequency waves, measured in millimetres. 5G is broadly divided in mmWave and Sub-6GHz networks. The Sub-6GHz type network offers speeds up to 600Mbps on an average whereas the mmWave network (or high band, as the FCC says) offers speeds measurable in Gigabits per second. It is this mmWave technology that has caused all the confusion.

Is high-band 5G safe?

High band 5G or mmWave 5G uses higher frequencies to send data or information. Taking the laws of physics into consideration, higher frequencies carry a lot of energy but are bad at penetrating obstacles. Hence, those network operators currently using mmWave have to deploy more towers in 5G hotspots so as to offer better network coverage indoors.

mmWave radiation is not harmful and most of the carriers operate these networks much below the prescribed safe limits. The current 5G networks are said to be unable to penetrate the human body. Hence, 5G is safe for humans. Additionally, science hasn't been able to prove that 5G waves are affecting our immunity system in a negative way.

What to do then?

Nothing. Just do nothing. Stay indoors and avoid human contact to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading. Do remember that the novel coronavirus only spreads from direct contact and scientists have said it is not airborne.

On the other hand, rely on technology to stay connected with people and carry on with your work. If you have 5G network in your area, make the most out of it to conduct business, of possible. If you don't have 5G and are still relying on 4G LTE or slower networks, make the most out of it. Remember, technology is the only solution to most of our problems until this pandemic lasts.


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