The Digital Divide For 5G technology

The Digital Divide For 5G technology

Millimetre wave is a key technology that makes our new 5G cell phone networks even more transformative. But advocates against this technology claim that this radio frequency radiation can cause long-term health effects. On VOCM’s Morning Show we discuss the implications of this technology and what it means for Canadians.

Every new generation of wireless cell network technology delivers faster speeds, more functionality, and better options to our smart phones. The next generation of cell network data speeds and technology as part of the new 5G speeds is claiming it will be able to handle a thousand times more traffic than today’s networks and up to 10x faster than our 4G LTE data connections. Millimetre wave is just one of the key technologies that makes our new 5G cell phone networks even more transformative. It’s seen as a vital component that promises to deliver data at speeds faster than your home WIFI.

But advocates against this form of technology claim that this radio frequency radiation is not backed by any research on the long-term health effects it may have and call that we should focus our attention to further advancing wired fibre technology instead. Based on a recent federal consultation held by Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada (ISED) some of the big telecommunications companies agree that purchasing this millimetre wave 5G spectrum at this time is premature but won’t rule out using it sometime in the future. This has many activists worried about the future implications of this wireless technology and what it means for our health, agricultural and environmental damage, and risks to privacy and cybersecurity.

Going back to the beginning of smart phones, 1G was brought to our very first generation of cell phones giving us access to calling, 2G gave us the ability to text one another, 3G gave us the ability to browse online and stream audio and video, and now 4/5G helped deliver the speeds we enjoy today. But as more users come online 4 and 5g networks have just about reached the limit to what they are capable of at a time when users want even greater speeds and data bandwidth for their smartphones and devices.

It’s important to note that your smartphone uses very specific frequencies which is part of a radio frequency spectrum. But these frequencies are starting to get more crowded since carriers can only squeeze so many bits of data on the same amount of radio frequency spectrum. As more devices come online with newer technologies built into them we are going to start to see more dropped connections and slower speeds; something the carriers do not want to see happen.

So, one out of many solutions is to open up a new spectrum of radio frequency called millimetre waves. This section of spectrum has never been used before for mobile devices and opening it up means much more data bandwidth and much faster data speeds. With that in mind, it is also opened up a great debate about if this new untested type of technology is harmful for our health and the environment giving some Canadian experts and leading citizens’ groups at a recent federal consultation held by Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada a call for a moratorium on the release of mmWave spectrum for 5G expansion here in Canada claiming that we should be focusing on better wired technologies instead.

Both the telecom’s and advocates for wired networking surprisingly agreed that bidding and buying on mmWave spectrum was not the best idea right now. Though for different reasons. Telco’s like Rogers claim that the signal can’t travel very good through objects so therefore it would be a weak signal covering short distances and would need expensive infrastructure deployment for it to be viable.

Advocates like Frank Clegg, CEO of Canadians For Safe Technology group, and former president of Microsoft Canada claim that not enough research has been done to prove the long-term health effects of mmWaves. His group further claims that there is strong scientific evidence that radiation from current 5G wireless technologies causes serious adverse effects and that Health Canada’s exposure guidelines (called Safety Code 6) do not protect Canadians, or the environment. Clegg further claims that 5G wireless networks will also increase risks to privacy and cybersecurity, interfere with critical satellite data affecting weather forecasting accuracy; and contribute significantly to climate change and pollution.

So it seems as if this group brings a lot to the table and upon initial inquiry seem to have legitimate concerns.

There definitely does seem to be a digital divide between two distinct groups here. Many reputable groups and researchers saying 5G and millimetre wave technology is safe while others saying the opposite. Clegg and his group claim hundreds of high-quality peer-reviewed studies show that exposure to certain radio frequencies from present-day wireless technologies cause adverse health effects while global groups like the World Health Organization (WHO) claim no adverse health effects has been linked with exposure to wireless technologies.

What’s interesting to note is that fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) claim that only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G. And those studies state that the main mechanism of interaction between radio frequency fields and the human body is your skin. And so the heating up of the skin would only be possible at very high levels but since exposure is low the World Health Organization (WHO) say no consequences are anticipated.

We’ve got TWO sides to this saga both claiming to be experts who have access to the same collection of scientific research. Most of us aren’t scientists studying this so it’s difficult to know for sure.

All things considered, I’ll error on the side of caution and be mindful of how you use your mobile devices. If you can, turn off any and all devices that use wifi or data in your house at night, go hands free with your phone when possible, pick wired over wireless when browsing, listening or watching, and try to distance yourself from wireless emitting sources as best you can.




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