Over the past year, 5G has become a talking point for all sorts of reasons. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the technology was even blamed for the spread of coronavirus across the globe, and some countries like the UK witnessed people vandalising 5G towers out of anger.
A new report by Deloitte titled Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Predictions 2021 says that the fears around 5G are grossly overblown. "We predict that in 2021, it is very unlikely that the radiation from 5G mobile networks and 5G phones will affect the health of any single individual, be it a 5G user, a user of any other generation of mobile phones, or any individual in the vicinity of a mobile network but not actually using a mobile device," says the report.
Delving deep into the subject, the report further notes that the most common perception about 5G is that it causes cancer, and the second fear is that 5G-emitted radiation weakens the immune system, enabling COVID-19 to spread. It adds that despite extensive scientific evidence proving that mobile phone technologies have no adverse health impacts, between 10-20 per cent adults in many advanced economies will mistakenly equate 5G with possible harm to their health.
"5G does generate radiation, but at very safe levels, and none of it is radioactive radiation. 5G base stations and phones, and the frequency ranges within which 5G operates, are very likely to be operating well within safe parameters in 2021 and throughout 5G's lifetime which may extend to two decades," the report states.
Even though 5G is getting brickbats, the previous mobile technologies (2G, 3G, 4G) had been attacked too for their health risks. Not just that, there were also concerns with other wireless technologies (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.) due to the transmission of radiowaves. The history of new technologies getting undue criticism goes way back in time when people believed the impact of TV sets on human health.
Explaining a bit in detail, the Deloitte report says that the power transmission from mobile telephony, including 5G, is far lower than that from light bulbs, TV, radio towers, or even sunlight on an overcast day.
"The power transmitted by the mobile phones used in 2021 and into the foreseeable future can reach up to two watts, depending on the age of the phone. It can be as low as 0.001 watt, with the vast majority of devices in use this year peaking at 1 watt. By comparison, the power transmitted by CB [citizens band] radios, which have been in use for decades, reaches up to four watts. As with a phone, a base station's power level declines with distance from its transmitter. An individual 100 meters away from a 5G macrocell antenna located at 30 meters' height would absorb less than one microwatt (one-thousandth of a watt) of power," the report points out.
By design, 5G is more effective than all previous mobile technologies. It not only ensures higher speeds and low-latency, but the technology also uses less power than 4G or 3G, and hence, and thereby emits lesser power. "5G base stations also can be put into sleep mode when there are no active users (for example, at night). This capability is not available with 4G networks, which transmit control signals even when there are no users in range," the report says.