September 19, 2023

Two new scientific reviews have backed up all the previous research into 5G technology to date, finding that the next-generation connectivity standard doesn’t pose any health risks.

Overseen by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety  and Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, the reviews looked back at 138 previous studies and reanalyzed over 100 experiments to look for possible dangers in the millimeter wave frequencies (low-level radio waves above 6 GHz).

While the research and scientific analysis will likely continue, this in-depth look at what the globe know so far about 5G and its associated technologies points to it being perfectly safe at the kinds of levels that people would be exposed to it.

“In conclusion, a review of all the studies provided no substantiated evidence that low-level radio waves, like those used by the 5G network, are hazardous to human health,” Assistant Director of Assessment and Advice at ARPANSA, Ken Karipidis said.

While frequencies above 6 GHz have regularly been used in radar, medical instruments, and security equipment – like the airport screening scanners people have probably walked through – they’re about to be used much more widely as 5G networks get rolled out worldwide.

Combing through the data and the reported results on genotoxicity (mutations), cell proliferation, gene expression, cell signalling, membrane function, and other biological effects, the researchers could find “no confirmed evidence that low-level RF fields above 6 GHz such as those used by the 5G network are hazardous to human health”.

Where some biological effects were noted, they were generally not independently replicated, and they were in studies that lacked rigorous quality control methods, the researchers say – though we can surely expect even more, ongoing assessments into 5G in the years ahead.

“We recommend that future experimental studies improve their design with particular attention to dosimetry and temperature control, and that future epidemiological studies continue to monitor long-term health effects in the population related to wireless telecommunications,” said Karipidis.

The team’s findings were consistent with the safety standards set out by the The International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and widely adopted around the world.

A newly updated standard has been put together by ARPANSA, emphasizing the limit at which radio waves used in wireless communications could be harmful: exposure from WiFi is 100 million times below this standard, while exposure from mobile phone towers is 500,000 times below.

Concerns about the safety of the new technology are valid and understandable, the researchers claimed, but despite what people might read on social media, all of the hard evidence that has been collected so far points to 5G being safe to deploy.

IN a related development, China’s government reportedly plans to prioritise the development of 6G up to 2025, stepping-up its ambitions for the technology following recent research advancements in Europe and the US.

State-owned newspaper China Daily stated government and industry experts have outlined a plan to advance 6G between 2021 and 2025, as part of a wider “digital China” standalone objective to ensure technology provides fresh economic impetus.

Deputy Head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, Yang Xiaowei, said at a news briefing the country would accelerate R&D of 6G technologies, construction of a large-scale 5G network and a push around IPv6.

He reportedly explained more effort would be made to build up systems and standards “to accommodate data flow, cross-border data transmission and data security protection”, as China looks to reap the benefits of the digital economy.

Details of what exactly the country plans to do to accelerate 6G or when it expects the technology to launch were not revealed, however industry players have widely indicated the technology will not see the light of day until 2030 at least.

Industry murmurings around the next-generation of mobile has grown over the last year.Last month, a new 6G research project was unveiled involving major European operators, while in 2020 US operators committed to the Next G Alliance, a group tasked with developing and defining the technology.

China has also already been active, launching what it claimed was the first 6G experimental satellite to test communications for space using high-frequency terahertz spectrum in November 2020.

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