Businesses and consumers love new technology. They happily purchase new products that are faster, more powerful, and that have an assortment of brand-new bells and whistles. However, there is one new technology that is generating a very different reaction. A growing number of people assert that they will not use it under any circumstances. And they’re even doing whatever they can to stop it from being sold.
This new technology is called 5G and it’s expected to be the next big thing in wireless.
5G, the fifth generation of cellular networking, is a lot more than just a simple improvement over the existing network. The New York Times describes this as “a once-in-a-decade upgrade to our wireless systems.” 5G is expected to be the driving force behind our cell phones in just a few months.
The most immediate benefit will be dramatically faster smartphones, but that’s not the only one. 5G will also affect many other gadgets, ranging from security cameras to cars – and even robots and drones. When officially launched, it will be one giant leap for technology.
More importantly, both the US and China believe 5G networks offer a competitive advantage that will be important in artificial intelligence and other leading-edge technologies; there also are important security aspects to this technology.
While AT&T and Verizon are talking up its advantages, other companies already have displayed devices that incorporate this technology. Samsung, for example, has demonstrated prototype 5G smartphones that will work on both AT&T and Verizon networks, and other companies will soon show off their own 5G wares. Analysts predict that a 5G iPhone will be available some time in 2020. Carriers are already installing new transmission equipment that offers this technology.
Even at this stage it’s clear there are numerous advantages for using 5G, and those will lead to huge changes in the kinds of video games we play, the way we shop, and how we watch our favorite sports.
According to The Times, “Qualcomm, the wireless chip maker, predicts initial median speeds of 1.4 gigabits per second using 5G technology. This is approximately 20 times faster than the speeds currently available on 4G systems.” But even faster speeds than this are on the way; Qualcomm has already demonstrated peak 5G download speeds of 4.5 gigabits per second: more than three times faster than the initial speeds that will be available.
5G’s warp speed capability will be especially noticeable when streaming video. While downloading a typical movie in 4G takes about six minutes, using Qualcomm’s median speeds this would take just 17 seconds. “Rather than remembering to download a season of a favorite TV show before heading to the airport, you could do it while waiting in line to board a plane,” said Justin Denison, a Samsung senior vice president.
There will also be benefits in virtual reality (VR). Currently, the highest-quality VR applications require the user to wear bulky headsets and stay connected by wire to nearby PCs that generate 3-D images. 5G will enable this to be accomplished wirelessly, allowing the user to move around at will and without the need for headsets. In augmented reality (AR), a related field, sports fans will be able to point their smartphone at a football game and see both live video on the display as well as superimposed player statistics or other data. And it will also be used in medical and other fields.
So it’s clear that 5G will provide much faster service than that now available on 4G, the current standard. It’s also clear that 5G will generate billions for the companies providing this technology.
But what’s not as clear is whether 5G is safe. There are some who believe it may pose increased health risks to both humans and animals, and several studies suggest these concerns are justified.
Prepforthat.com reports that “the installation of 5G cell towers … is likely to have a detrimental effect on our public health.” 5G tower waves are being “linked to cancer, immune system compromises, and numerous other health issues,” it adds.
Experts in several fields believe the issue is the higher levels of radiation 5G towers will emit, which also may cause headaches, fatigue, and cognitive dysfunction in some individuals, and may even interfere with human reproduction.
Dr. Joel Moscowitz, Professor of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Daily Mail Online that “the deployment of 5G cellular technology is a massive experiment on all health of all species.” Wireless companies have already installed hundreds of thousands of new 5G antennas.
Not everyone is worried about negative health consequences of 5G. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for one denies that 5G poses any health risk. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agrees. The CDC says that these concerns are the work of fear-mongering conspiracy theorists, and that “more research is needed until it can be conclusively determined that using cell phones causes health risks.”
Despite these reassurances, the red flags being raised about 5G are unmistakable. In England, health officials say that instances of brain cancer are on the rise and potentially linked to cell phone usage. If radiation is a cause of that, the higher amounts emitted from 5G won’t lessen this worry.
Here’s an excerpt from Vice about the problems 5G may pose: “You will not be able to walk down a sidewalk without being continually exposed to heightened levels of EMFs (electromagnetic fields), which may increase the risks of cancer, according to Dr. David Carpenter, director of the University of Albany’s Institute for Health and the Environment
Not In My Back Yard
Residents in some cities and towns where 5G is being introduced are writing their local officials to express their angst and distress about those towers. Some communities have actually banned the use of 5G cell towers.
Vicki Sievers, of the EMF Safety Network, spoke to a group about 5G health risks. “Around the world, doctors and scientists are gravely alarmed about the biological and physiological effects of that technology,” she said. After her speech, the audience gave her enthusiastic applause.
So what is your opinion about this new technology? Could we feel confident that the companies we do business with would never sell products that could endanger our health? Is there any reason to think that government agencies established to protect the public would give any company a free pass? Or is all of the talk about possible health concerns caused by 5G simply hype and much ado about nothing?
Before you take the plunge and buy a new 5G smartphone, you may want to think about these questions.
Gerald Harris is a financial and feature writer. Gerald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org