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CSR: 5G – Friend or Foe?


The 5G network is all set to make an entry in India. The trials for the same are expected to be conducted by 2020 and the centre is planning a 6 crore spectrum auction to make the introduction of 5G affordable in the country. While the excitement to welcome the new technology is tremendous, the warnings of negative impacts on the health and environment because of this are being overlooked.

Studies have shown that all artificial electromagnetic radiation is a problem for health because biological systems are not adapted to it. Since exposure has increased progressively and started at a time when disease detection was primitive, these impacts have gone largely unnoticed. The health evidence has been there but ignored for decades.

According to experts, 5G will promote cell phone use and therefore human exposures to phones and base stations. The higher frequencies will concentrate the radiation in a smaller portion of the human body because of smaller penetration depth. These frequencies will also be high intensity since it needs to penetrate through obstacles. The exposures will be more concentrated over time because of the beam-forming (5-10°) that is specific to 5G. On the specific issue of cancer, all major animal studies, including Chou (1992), Repacholi (1997) and NTP-Ramzzini (2019) have confirmed carcinogenic action of electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

According to experts, in a completely connected 5G world, there would be impacts on cancer rates, on neurological diseases, including electrical hypersensitivity (EHS), fertility and diabetes.

Instead of 5G, experts have recommended using alternative methods to build robust and fast communication systems that include the deployment of optical fibre networks to home and businesses, which can, ultimately, be two crore times faster than 5G. Another alternative suggested is of capitalisation on wired connections, which, like cable, can bring speeds of 10 gb/second to homes.

While countries such as the U.S., China and India are keen to promote 5G, the industry and health experts are at an impasse regarding the technology.

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The CSR Journal Team