What Is 5G?

5G stands for 5th Generation of wireless networks and marks the next stage in the evolution of wireless telecommunication. You're probably familiar with 3G (3rd Generation) and 4G (4th Generation) which is what most phones and other wireless devices connect to at the moment when there is no WiFi connection available.

5G does NOT stand for 5GHz which you might see occasionally on WiFi networks. WiFi routers usually operate at either 2.4GHz frequency or 5.8GHz frequency.

At the moment, our wireless devices typically use frequencies within the 50MHz - 6GHz range to connect, most commnly between 700MHz and 3GHz. 5G is being introduced because the section of the radio frequency spectrum currently being used by 3G and 4G (and their predecessors 1G and 2G) is becoming overcrowded and soon will not be able to support the increasing number of devices needing a connection. 

Why do we need 5G? 

The number of mobile phones and other smart devices is only set to increase and the current networks will not be able to cope with the increased demand for connectivity as there is only so much data that can fit onto the same amount of radio frequency spectrum.

The current networks, including 3G and 4G are also struggling to keep up with the demands of emerging technologies such as virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous cars. These technologies require faster speeds, more bandwidth and decreased lag-time. It is estimated that 5G could have data transfer rates of up to 10GB per second and could make internet speed up to 100 times faster than the current 4G networks can support. 

How will 5G work? 

5G will use the segments of the radio frequency spectrum currently not being used by the 3G and 4G networks. In addition to using frequency ranges between 600MHz and 7.1GHz, the industry wants to use higher frequencies, also known as millimeter waves (MMW) which start around 24 - 30GHz with some reports estimating they may go as high as 300GHz.

This frequency range is essentially 'empty space' on the radio frequency spectrum so carriers will have significantly increased bandwidth to support more devices and technology. However, there is a catch: millimeter waves are higher frequencies with shorter wavelengths and these shorter wavelengths are unable to travel as far or travel through objects or buildings, plus they can be absorbed by trees and rain. 

To combat this, rather than having a few large mobile phone towers which can transmit a signal over a large distance, the 5G network will have to include the installation of thousands of small cell antennae which will be placed on buildings, street signs and lamp posts, on every street corner close to where people live, work and go to school.

Watch this video to understand more about how 5G will work. 

Should I be concerned about 5G? 

From a public health point of view, there are reasons to be concerned about 5G technology. There has been a lot of research to indicate that exposure - particlarly long-term exposure - to EMF emitted by smart technology is harmful to our health. We are already just starting to understand the long-term health effects of our current set-up with 4G and WiFi which the World Health Organisation has already classified  as 'possibly carcinogenic.'

Watch former President of Microsoft Canada, Frank Clegg, discuss the health and safety implications of 5G here

In early 2020, Switzerland, one of the world's leaders in the rollout of 5G mobile technology has placed an indefinite moratorium on the use of its new network over health concerns. As reported in the Financial Times 'the Swiss Medical Assocuation has advised caution on 5G, arguing that the most stringent legal principles should be applied because of unanswered questions about the technology's potential to cause damage to the nervous system, or even cancers.' 

Visit our EMF Research page for more in-depth information on studies into EMF effects on health. 

One way we know to reduce our exposure to EMF is to keep our distance from the EMF source. With the introduction of 5G's small cell antenna network on virtually every street corner, keeping our distance from a powerful EMF emitting device will be all but impossible, particularly in major cities. This is of particular concern when you consider the findings of this study into cancer rates of people living close to a mobile phone tower. The study concluded that "the proportion of newly developing cancer cases was significantly higher among those patients who had lived during the past ten years at a distance of up to 400 metres from the cellular tramsitter site" 

Of course, 5G will be in addition to the current 3G and 4G networks so is increasing the EMF levels that the general public is exposed to. Research so far into 5G has shown how millimeter waves might affect our skin, nervous system and sweat glands. For further information on the health effects of 5G watch this short video presentation given last year by Dr. Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences, Washington State University (WSU).

We also recommend reading this in-depth article by renowned building biologist Oram Miller which is updated regularly and gives a thorough explanation of what 5G is, how it works now, how it is planned to work in the future and why we should be concerned about its deployment. More 5G news and updates can be found at the EHTrust.org website.

Has there been any safety testing on 5G? 

In February 2019 in the US, during a Senate Commerce hearing, Senator Richard Blumenthal raised concerns about 5G's potential health risks. Addressing wireless industry representatives, Blumenthal asked whether they have supported research on the safety of 5G technology and potential links between radiofrequency and cancer. The industry representatives conceded they have not and Senator Blumenthal concluded that "we are flying blind here on health and safety." 

Watch the video of the Senate Commerce hearing here.

The Australian government agency responsible for radiation protection, ARPANSA, states that the "operating frequencies of the 5G network are included within the limits set by the ARPANSA safety standard". These safety standards are based on the standards set in 1996 by ICNIRP, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. Many EMF health experts, in light of recent research findings, have described these standards as "not protective given the science now established. ICNIRP guidelines set exposure standards for high-intensity, short-term tissue heating thresholds, considered not applicable for the long-term, low intensity chronic exposures we typically experience today."

See the press release calling for stricter safety guidelines. 

On January 31, 2020, the Environmental Health Trust launched a historic legal action against the FCC in the US for its refusal to update the 24-year-old mobile phone and wireless radiofrequency (RF) radiation guidelines. The legal action is in response to a declaration by the FCC in December 2019 that no review was needed to the guidelines and that wireless radiation limits were protective. In its press release, the EHT stated that the FCC's December action is 'arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the law as the FCC has violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to adequately review the hundreds of relevant scientific submissions finding harmful effects from wireless technologies. The FCC's December action gives the green light to the rollout of 5G technology and small cell densification in the USA.' 

When will 5G be launched in Australia?

5G networks are already well underway by two of the main carriers in Australia. Optus has already announced its 5G Home Broadband package which it will roll out to customers in selected suburbs this year and they are aiming to deliver 1,200 5G sites at selected locations around Australia by March 2020. Likewise, Telstra committed to connecting all major capital cities and regional areas to 5G by the end of 2019.

Vodafone are also set to roll out their 5G coverage in 2020 and we can likely expect the first 5G-enabled mobile phones to hit the Australia market this year. Samsung has already announced its partnership with Telstra to launch Australia's first 5G phone. 

What can I do to protect myself from 5G? 

You can join tens of thousands of other concerned citizens, scientists, doctors and environmental organisations from around the world and sign the 5G Space Appeal which calls upon the UN, WHO, EU, Council of Europe and governments of all nations to halt the deployment of 5G until more rigorous safety testing has been done.

This appeal follows a 5G Appeal already sent to the United Nations in 2017 by a group of over 250 scientists and doctors in which they called for a moratorium on the roll-out of 5G: " We the undersigned scientists and doctors recommend a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry. 5G will substantially increase exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on top of the 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, etc for telecommunications already in place. RF-EMF has been proven to be harmful for humans and the environment"

On a more local level, you can appeal to your local council as well as federal agencies to halt the roll-out of 5G, until further safety testing has been conducted. There are also many Stop 5G action groups across Australia. 

There is currently a Parliamentary Inquiry underway here in Australia looking into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G. All submissions had to be submitted by November 1, 2019 and, while health and safety were deemed outside of the scope of the inquiry, recently representatives from the We Say No to 5G in Australia group and the national network of Stop 5G groups presented at an inquiry hearing. 

Get informed about new 5G-enabled towers being installed near you by visiting the Radio Frequency National Site Archive website at https://www.rfnsa.com.au. Simply search by entering your postcode or address. 

While protecting yourself from 5G is important, don't forget to take steps to reduce your exposure to the radio frequencies that already surround us. Check out our Reducing Exposure page for tips and advice to help you reduce your use and increase your distance from sources of EMR inside your home and workplace. 

Also consider an EMF protection device like Blushield which helps to protect you from the harmful biological effects of all EMF including 5G. Blushield emits its own frequency based on natural scalar frequencies. Scalar energy is found in nature and is therefore a frequency that our body has eveolved with and can understand. When the body resonates with Blushield's natural scalar frequencies it can ignore or over-ride the powerful man-made electromagnetic frequencies from all EMF including 5G millimetre waves. This helps to protect our body at a cellular level from the negative impacts of EMF. 

Discover more about Blushield.

You can also continue reducing your exposure to EMF in the usual ways including limiting time spent on your mobile phone, turning devices onto Airplane Mode whenever possible, keeping devices out of your bedroom, keeping your devices away from your body, using a mobile phone protection case like the SafeSleeve anti-radiation cases and using  an AirTube headset when talking or listening to music on your phone. 

To keep up to date about 5G and discover ways to reduce your EMF exposure, browse our website and sign up to our weekly newsletter.

Blog post originally published June 2019. Updated February 2020.