Gains and dangers of 5G mobile communications
The tech world has over the years seen an improvement in applications and codes created for use in a world that has more than ever accepted the reality brought by this phenomenon.
5G, a new generation of mobile radio communications, where the millimeter wave spectrum is harnessed for faster data speed comes under the spotlight as researchers and industry players disagree on its effect on human lives.
With the switch from 4G to 5G communication network already taking place in some countries, researchers are calling on the world health organisation to classify mobile communications as a category one cancer-causing substance, a stand industry players disagree with.
A world bank study in 2011 said: “over the last few years, there has been mounting concern about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices”. Similarly, a 2018 NTP report concluded that “exposure to Radio Frequency Radiation (RFR) may have caused tumors in the skin and lungs of male mice and malignant lymphomas in female mice”. The report added that for CDMA-modulated RFR “exposure to RFR may have caused tumors in the liver of male mice and malignant lymphomas in female mice”.
However, despite these findings, industry players believe the switch to 5G mobile communication network comes with little or no increase in the exposure levels of RFR to humans and animals.
Jane Egerton-Idehen, a telecoms expert, said “between 5g, 4g, 3g we haven’t changed the power levels. Maybe we have changed the spectrum or the bands at which we are transmitting, we haven’t changed the power level”.
“Once you increase the power, then, of course, you are transmitting at a higher frequency and that becomes problematic. But if you haven’t changed the power level, you only changed the frequencies, I don’t see how that health effect will come to play”, she said.
Speaking on changes that the mobile communication sector will witness when the switch takes place, a 5G Networks expert, Kwame Opoku, posited that “averagely, we have had about a 100 megabytes per second with 4G. In Africa, it’s a bit low, but globally it is about 100. Even with 4G, we have not fully achieved it’s full potential
“5G is promising 1.4 gigabytes of internet upload and download speed. What this means is that if you are downloading a 1gigabyte movie, you’ll download it in one second” stressing that “that is absolutely unheard of”.
He further maintains that the switch to 5G “will shift the entire global economy into a very different trajectory because of the internet of things”.
With the internet of things, smart homes and even cities becoming en vogue, other issues are being thrown up. for example, how secure can one operate within this space? A cybersecurity expert, Kunle Oloruntimehin, says standards set by globally recognised online security organisations must be strictly adhered to for safety.
“Bodies like the 3GPP have put together standards to drive security around 5G. The GSM operators, GSM vendors, and device manufacturers are aligning to these different security frameworks to make sure it does work” he added.
Though Nigeria cannot boast of fully implementing the 4G networks at the moment, it may one day and also move to the 5G afterward. Hopefully, before then there will be a definitive agreement on how much danger the 5G poses.