‘Safer than a microwave’: experts dispel common myths about 5G

The appearance of any new technology is often accompanied by a surge in mistrust and fears of society. A lack of information or banal unwillingness to sort a topic out is the reason for it. Conspiracy theories start to appear on this fertile ground, this is what happened to the 5G network there is a war on now. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report why the fifth generation network has had so many foes, how this technology works and if it can harm the human organism.

Coronavirus, cancer and other “side effects”

If we Google “5G technology”, “harm” will be the first option to continue this request, which is quite illustrative. The theory of a negative influence of the fifth-generation network on human health isn’t new: conspiracy theorists claimed at the dawn of the appearance of the 5G that the technology caused cancer, while the coronavirus added up to the list of “side effects” with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The loud accusations come with fantastic explanations. Supporters of this theory think that 5G frequencies make oxygen molecules “fluctuate with a frequency of 60 billion Hertz a second”, as a consequence they can’t connect with haemoglobin in a person’s blood. In other words, the patients with COVID-19 have a lack of oxygen because of the “5G radiation”. Another version is that the diapason of 5G waves can destroy chemical links in the human DNA and damage cells of the organism.

It should be noted that networks of previous generations were also disapproved by conspiracy theorists. The blame for the outbreak of SARS in 2003 was shifted on the 3G network, while the 4G was responsible for swine flu in 2009. Fans of conspiracy theories managed to found the cause of Spanish influenza in 1918 — radio turned out to be the cause.

“Good” and “bad” radiation

As our newspaper was explained in the Tatarstan Ministry of Digitalisation, the mechanism of operation of 5G stations almost doesn’t differ from the principle of operation of the previous generations. In other words, every tower maintains the connection with electronic devices within its zone of action by receiving and sending the signal. Supervisor of Network and IT council of experts in the Russian government Irina Levova adds that the peculiarity of the 5G standard is linked with optimal use of frequencies.

Indeed, the 5G network uses another radio diapason compared to earlier generations of the mobile network. However, it still refers to the non-ionising range. And if the non-ionising range is harmless, the ionising one includes gamma rays, which can damage DNA.

“The diapason of frequencies of radio waves mobile towers operate in doesn’t harm human health: there isn’t enough power for negative influence. The risks of modern communication networks are much less than, for instance, from a microwave or even a wall TV,” Director of Kazan Federal University’s Centre for Digital Transformations Dmitry Chikrin confirms the above-mentioned words.

Besides this, the Tatarstan Ministry of Digitalisation says that the 5G radiation is much lower than the previous standards. Dmitry Chikrin voices the analogous position too.

“The capacity of mobile communication stations depends on its standard: the newer the standard of the tower from 1G to 5G, the lower the radiation of both the basic station and a mobile phone. Moreover, a close location of weak towers (that is characteristic of precisely 4G and 5G) allows reducing the radio wave load on the organism because radiation from the mobile phone is minimised,” the expert explains. “Higher security in use for people compared to previous standards (from 1 to 4 generations) is one of the priority criteria; moreover, all 3G systems could already be considered as safer for people than others sources of electromagnetic radiation that surround us. In other words, 5G systems will certainly be safer than, for instance, the 3G and safer than the 4G.”

Safer than in Europe

Explaining to our newspaper the principle of operation of networks of the fifth generation, experts paid special attention to basic stations (that have already managed to suffer from active participants in the war against the 5G in some countries). The main point is that their installation under the strict control of specialists and considering all technological requirements.

“The diagram of the direction of antennas is calculated in a way that most radiation (over 90%) is concentrated in a very narrow ray — directed towards the mobile phone the work is done with. Even in this case, the power of radiation coming from the basic station is much lower than the power of radiation of a mobile phone (or moreover walkie-talkies) for any communication standards,” says the director of Kazan Federal University’s Centre for Digital Transformations. “In Russia, standards of Sanitary Rules and Norms clearly establish the diapason mobile network towers and mobile phones can operate within. Meanwhile, in European countries, these numbers are much higher. We can say that Russia is one of the countries of the world that consider this issue with special attention.”

Supervisor of Network and IT council of experts in the Russian government Irina Levova also indicates that all 5G equipment must be certified, and the established requirements of Russia’s consumer protection watchdog Rospotrebnadzor for safe use will apply to it as well as the networks of previous generations.

“We shouldn’t worry about the influence of the 5G on human health because the devices that support this standard are imported to the Russian Federation only after compulsory certification, which also envisages safety testing for human health in special laboratories,” comments Vice Prime Minister of Tatarstan Roman Shaykhutdinov.

Does Russia have 5G?

In conclusion, we would like to remind you that nowadays Russia doesn’t have operating 5G networks. A mass transition to this technology is impossible so far because the government hasn’t allocated frequencies for it yet, while gadgets that can receive such a signal aren’t on sale.

Moreover, some regions have small test zones that opened for research and education. By the way, Tatarstan was one of the first regions in Russia to create conditions to test networks of the fifth generation. The first 5G test zone opened in Innopolis in 2018.

“In 2018 too, Kazan tests 5G with standardised diapasons 26/28 GHz — it was a test of the unmanned bus management system that transported fans during the FIFA World Cup,” Roman Shaykhutdinov remembers. “In 2019, another 5G pilot project was launched in Innopolis in 2019 (the frequencies were 5 GHz). It is planned to cover the building of the Popov Technology Park and the adjacent territory in the interests of Innopolis SEZ residents with the 5G till the end of the year.”

According to Director of Kazan Federal University’s Centre for Digital Transformations Dmitry Chikrin, nowadays Tatarstan is fully ready to launch 5G networks, however, this transition will happen in the next several years — with the coming of a new generation of mobile phones and other gadgets to our life.

By Lina Sarimova