5G is being hyped as the next generation of wireless internet connectivity. However, the greater wireless speeds that this system may deliver would come at a cost.
This post is designed to give a very basic overview of the 5G system proposed for New Zealand and the concerns that have been raised about this technology.
To keep up to date with news on the 5G issue, please visit this link: http://www.5g.org.nz/category/news/
What sort of 5G system has been proposed for NZ?
In fact, the initial stage of the 5G system proposed for NZ would involve a doubling of cellular phone base stations in urban areas of NZ because the existing 4G system is proposed to be used as a “control layer” for the 5G system.
A transmission band at 3.5 GHz is also proposed to be used as part of the 5G system.
So-called “small cell” units transmitting in the millimetre wave band are also proposed to be part of a 5G system in New Zealand.
These “small cell” units could be placed every 250 metres in urban areas.
The eventual aim of the 5G system according to a discussion document produced by Radio Spectrum Management NZ is to facilitate one million internet connections per square kilometre. (Yes, you read that correctly; one million internet connections per square kilometre.)
The numerous “small cell” units are considered to be a vital part of allowing this huge (and for a country with only 4.5 million people, unnecessary) number of internet connections – if this new system were really designed to serve people.
However, the high density of connections in 5G systems is designed to facilitate the “Internet of Things” (IoT) in which different devices will be able to link to the internet and/or “talk” to each other. (For example, a “smart fridge” will be able to communicate wirelessly with a “smart” electricity meter.)
Moreover, according to Radio Spectrum Management NZ there would have to be “strong public policy reasons” why NZ should not have THREE separate 5G systems as Spark, Vodafone and 2 Degrees all want to build their own 5G systems.
Radio Spectrum NZ 5G Consultation
Radio Spectrum Management of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) recently posted a discussion document on its website and invited submission on 5G in NZ.
(Similar consultations have been taking place in other countries including Australia and the USA.)
The consultation period ended on Monday April 30, Submissions are now available on Radio Spectrum Management’s website at this link https://www.rsm.govt.nz/projects-auctions/current-projects/preparing-for-5g-in-new-zealand/submissions-received
Would 5G be a good thing for New Zealand?
From reading submissions on the 5G issue it is obvious that some telecommunications companies are very excited about 5G. This is not surprising given that they will make money as people consume more and more data via their addictive smart phones and other wireless devices.
New Zealanders whose concerns are their health and that of their families and communities wrote submissions opposing the introduction of 5G because of the potential for adverse health effects and that the fact that most New Zealanders have adequate internet access via the existing copper landlines system, fibre or 4G systems. Most of these submissions may be accessed via this link: https://www.rsm.govt.nz/projects-auctions/current-projects/preparing-for-5g-in-new-zealand/submissions-received
In brief, the health and community concerns with 5G include the following:
Potential Health Effects From Increased Exposure to RFR in the Microwave Range
• The 4G system uses radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range which has been classified as a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2011. Recent animal research has led to a call for this type of non ionising radiation to be reclassified as a proven (Class 1) carcinogen.
This is a concern not only for people who choose to use cellular phones and other devices that produce RFR in the microwave range, but also people who live in close proximity to cellular phone towers as there is evidence of increased cancer risk in people who live close to this sort of wireless infrastructure.
Potential Health Effects From Exposure to Radiation in the Millimetre Wave Range
• The millimetre wave frequencies that would be emitted by the small cells are a type of short wave radiation that has not been well researched in terms of potential health effects. (Some of the research that is available suggests that there is a risk that millimetre waves from 5G transmitters and personal devices could cause skin and eye damage. It is also a concern that millimetre waves have been developed as part of a weapons system by the US military which is colloquially known as the “pain ray”. (Please see the fifth page of the submission at this link https://www.rsm.govt.nz/projects-auctions/current-projects/preparing-for-5g-in-new-zealand/folder-potential-health-effects-of-5g-technology/attachment-submission-267.pdf for information about millimetre wave radiation weapons.)
Potential Adverse Effects on Wildlife from Increased Exposure to RFR in the Microwave Range
The potential adverse effects on wildlife from increased exposure to RFR in the microwave range is a concern of some New Zealanders who made submissions. One document submitted was this meticulously conducted study.
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