Should we be afraid of the 5G ?

Faut-il avoir peur de la 5G ?

Faut-il avoir peur de la 5G ?

Some far-right groups have even developed conspiracy theories linking non-existent between the 5G and the pandemic of COVID-19. Some activists have gone so far as to set fire to the towers of telecommunications in Belgium, the netherlands, and recently in Quebec.


May 17, 2020 4: 00


Should we be afraid of the 5G ?

Tchéhouali Destiny

Professor international communication, University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM)

The advent of the 5G raises many concerns and worries among the population, to the point where the movements “anti-5G” appeared in different countries in the last few months.

Some far-right groups have even developed conspiracy theories linking non-existent between the 5G and the pandemic of COVID-19. Some activists have gone so far as to set fire to the towers of telecommunications in Belgium, the netherlands, and recently in Quebec. A couple of Sainte-Adèle has been formally accused of having set fire to two cell phone towers. They would be the authors of a wave of fires that have damaged at least seven towers on the north crown of Montreal.

The false news about the 5G, as relayed by influencers and celebrities, have spread at lightning speed on social networks, reinforcing the fears of citizens who are suspected already of the potential impact of 5G on the health.

These conspiracy theories argue, for example, that the spread of the virus from the epicenter of the pandemic, Wuhan would be linked to the large number of towers 5G installed in the city, whereas in reality the network 5G, there is even not yet fully deployed. Other theories claim that the waves emitted by the infrastructure 5G weaken our immune system.

On its website, the world health Organization (WHO) has had to warn the audience against the misinformation in connection with telephone networks, 5G, stating that they do not disseminate the Covid-19, and that the virus does not circulate on the radio or by mobile networks. In addition, the Covid-19 is spread in many countries that do not have a mobile network 5G !

A revolutionary technology ?

Considered as the fifth generation technologies of wireless communication, the 5G should allow to better cope with the explosion of global traffic data provided for the years to come. Beyond improving the technical capacity of the 4G network, this new standard crosses the ultimate border is essential for communications massive and simultaneous between machines.

Faut-il avoir peur de la 5G ?

Android Authority

The 5G will accelerate the automation of industries, the introduction of autonomous vehicles, the development of smart cities, telehealth, and the surgery to distance. All of this will be made possible thanks to three main factors : the increase in connection speeds (thanks to the improvement of the use of bands to high frequency), the reduction of the latency time and the use of the infrastructure of new generation such as small directional antennas. These antennas are equipped with devices of signal relay can be integrated into street furniture, buildings, transport and public services, so as to promote targeted dissemination of the signal.

But what would be the price to pay for our societies, and what is the social acceptability of these new devices ultraconnectés, taking into account the risks and the potential and actual effects to human health ?

The deployment in Canada

Regarded by the canadian Council of information technologies and communications (CTIC) as the “last gold mine”, the deployment of the 5G in Canada is in a pre-marketing phase and it will have to wait several more months for Canadians to really take advantage of the services and uses innovative associated with this technology.

Since the end of 2019, the large telecommunications companies have announced the construction of its network and the choice of their suppliers. Rogers is an ally of the Swedish giant Ericsson, Videotron on the south-Korean Samsung, Bell has chosen the Finnish Nokia and the company has entered into a partnership with the chinese Huawei. Note that the federal government has not yet allowed the canadian supplier to use equipment from Huawei. This folder is tricky, given the allegations of spying, which is weighing on Huawei, suspected of having links with the chinese government.

The arrest in Vancouver of Meng Wanzhou, the financial director of Huawei and the escalation of diplomatic tensions between the Canada and China puts Ottawa in an awkward situation. It still awaits the results of the survey conducted on the threat to national security, in order to know if Huawei will be allowed to participate in the operations of installation of the 5G in Canada. Recall that, according to a survey published by the Institute Angus Reid at the end of December 2019, a majority of Canadians (69 %) want the giant chinese telecom plays no role in the deployment of mobile technology 5G in Canada.

Moreover, delays are to be expected in the allocation of frequencies and the establishment of networks 5G due to the pandemic of COVID-19. The latest Ericsson Mobility Report estimates that the market for the 5G does blast really only from 2021 and provides more than one billion subscriptions in the world by 2023.

Faut-il avoir peur de la 5G ?

GSMA, The Mobile Economy 2020, p. 13.

No danger to human health

Many scientists are concerned about the potential effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by the devices connected to the network 5G.

Some studies, including that of the ANSES report of the actual symptoms observed in the people so-called “électrosensibles” such as stress, headaches, heart disorders and impaired cognitive functions (memory, attention, coordination) in children. However, there is diagnosis is not scientifically validated and we cannot establish today a causal link between these symptoms, (which remains inexplicable), and the exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Other researchers, including physicist Paul Héroux, a professor at the Faculty of medicine of McGill University, and evoke long-term risk of proliferation of cases of cancer, given the deterioration of the environment caused by the chemical effects of the potential issuance of radio frequencies by the future networks, 5G.

However, other research validated by the WHO and the tests carried out by the health authorities in several countries, including Health Canada, the centre for communications research Canada and the national public health Institute of Quebec in Canada conclude for the moment that the 5G does not represent a danger to human health, taking account of national and international standards that limit rf exposure.

Already, remember a proven fact : the electromagnetic waves (such as those emitted by microwave ovens, appliances, computers, wifi routers, cell phones and other wireless devices) are non-ionizing. Unlike X-rays or ultraviolet rays, they would not be powerful enough to reach the cells of the human body and affect our immune system.

The object of all fears

The 5G has become an issue controversial and crystallizes all the concerns of the society. This is not the first time (and not the last) that technological progress was called into question because of an irrational fear, brought about by the uncertainty regarding the risk of a technology perceived as invasive.

However, the enthusiasm of the technophiles and other “early adopters” of technological innovations must not make us fall into the ” solutionnisme technology “, which would have the 5G as THE new technology saving. On the other hand, the scepticism from technophobic and the opposition of the activists anti-5G and of the conspiracy must not make us descend into the paranoia collective.

Between these two extremes, and in the current context, conducive to a paradigm shift, we recommend a third way : reinvent relationships of the company with technologies in a rational way. The time has come for companies, public authorities and citizens reflect on the challenges, the opportunities, the vices and virtues of the digitization and widespread society. The deployment of the 5G is a part of this process and is both a new challenge and an opportunity for societal progress.

It is quite possible to embrace the promises of the digital transformation without neglecting to take the necessary precautions for health and the environment. It must not fall into technological determinism, and to believe that we have no power over these technologies.

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This text first appeared on the site of the franco-canadian of The Conversation. Reproduced with permission.

Faut-il avoir peur de la 5G ?

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