By Adewole Kehinde
The deployment of 5G in Nigeria has raised a lot of controversies. While many Nigerians had claimed that the technology is already in the country and was injurious, the NCC had denied rumours the technology was in use in some parts of the country.
The NCC, in November, 2019 approved trials for 5G for a period of three months. The trial has been concluded and installation decommissioned, it said, while licences have not been issued yet.
With the 2 Day training for Nigeria Information Technology Reporters’ Association (NITRA), Abuja Chapter themed “Capacity Building for Telecom Sector Reporters,” I have been able to know more about the economy benefit of 5G and more enlightened on the health implications of using 5G.
5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. It enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.
5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability and a more uniform user experience to more users. Higher performance and improved efficiency empower new user experiences and connects new industries.
5G will do much more than significantly improve our network connection. It provides new opportunities, enabling us to deliver ground breaking solutions that reach across society.
Imagine billions of connected devices gathering and sharing information in real time to reduce road accidents or life-saving applications that can take flight thanks to lag-free guaranteed connections; or production lines so predictive they can prevent interruptions well before they occur.
5G is a unified, more capable air interface. It has been designed with an extended capacity to enable next-generation user experiences, empower new deployment models and deliver new services.
With high speeds, superior reliability and negligible latency, 5G will expand the mobile ecosystem into new realms. 5G will impact every industry, making safer transportation, remote healthcare, precision agriculture, digitized logistics and more a reality.
5G is designed to deliver peak data rates up to 20 Gbps based on IMT-2020 requirements. Qualcomm Technologies’ flagship 5G solutions, the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X55 and Snapdragon X60 Modem-RF Systems, are designed to achieve up to 7.5 Gbps in downlink peak data rates.
But 5G is about more than just how fast it is. In addition to higher peak data rates, 5G is designed to provide much more network capacity by expanding into new spectrum, such as mmWave.
5G can also deliver much lower latency for a more immediate response and can provide an overall more uniform user experience so that the data rates stay consistently high; even when users are moving around. And the new 5G NR mobile network is backed up by a Gigabit LTE coverage foundation, which can provide ubiquitous Gigabit-class connectivity.
5G has been deployed in more than 35 countries and counting and consumers are very excited about the high speeds and low latencies.
Some has asked how 5G affect the global economy growth and I can say that through a landmark 5G Economy study, 5G’s full economic effect will likely be realized across the globe by 2035; supporting a wide range of industries and potentially enabling up to $13.2 trillion worth of goods and services.
This impact is much greater than previous network generations. The development requirements of the new 5G network are also expanding beyond the traditional mobile networking players to industries such as the automotive industry.
Study revealed that the 5G value chain (including OEMs, operators, content creators, app developers, and consumers) could alone support up to 22.3 million jobs or more than one job for every person in Beijing, China. And there are many emerging and new applications that will still be defined in the future.
5G runs on the same radio frequencies that are currently being used for your Smartphone, on Wi-Fi networks and in satellite communications, but it enables technology to go a lot further.
Beyond being able to download a full-length HD movie to your phone in seconds (even from a crowded stadium), 5G is really about connecting things everywhere; reliably, without lag; so people can measure, understand and manage things in real time.
Many have complained of the health implication of 5G but most concerns about health impacts from 5G stem from millimeter-wave technology, high-frequency radio waves that are supposed to deliver much faster speeds. The catch is that millimeter-wave transmissions are far less reliable at long distances than transmissions using the lower frequencies that mobile carriers have traditionally used. To provide reliable, ubiquitous 5G service over millimeter-wave frequencies, carriers will need a larger number of smaller access points.
Millimeter waves are not the only or even the main, way that carriers will deliver 5G service. An example is T-Mobile that offers the most widespread 5G service available today. But it uses a band of low frequencies originally used for broadcast television. Sprint, meanwhile, repurposed some of the “mid-band” spectrum it uses for 4G to provide 5G. Verizon and AT&T both offer millimeter-wave-based services, but they are only available in a handful of locations. The wireless industry is focused more on using mid and low band frequencies for 5G, because deploying a massive number of millimeter-wave access points will be time-consuming and expensive. In other words, 5G will continue using the same radio frequencies that have been used for decades for broadcast radio and television, satellite communications, mobile services, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.
Even when carriers roll out more millimeter-wave coverage, consumers won’t need to worry much. Radio waves, visible light and ultraviolet light are all part of the electromagnetic spectrum. The higher-frequency parts of the spectrum, including x-rays and gamma rays, are what are known as “ionizing radiation.” This is the scary kind of radiation. It can break molecular bonds and cause cancer. Millimeter waves and other radio waves, along with visible light, are considered non-ionizing, meaning they don’t break molecular bonds. They are higher frequency than traditional broadcast frequencies, but they are still below the frequency of visible light and far below ionizing radiation such as shortwave ultraviolet light, x-rays, and gamma rays.
According to a toxicologist specializing in risk assessment at the consulting firm Ramboll, Robert DeMott, he said that calling it 5G and changing the frequency does not change the relevant biological health factor, which is energy.
Visible light is a common source of higher-frequency, higher-energy electromagnetic energy than millimeter waves or other mobile phone frequencies, says Eric S. Swanson, Professor of nuclear physics at the University of Pittsburgh.
That is not to say that overexposure to non-ionizing radiation can’t have negative side effects. Electromagnetic energy produces heat, which is the “one and only” health concern posed by radio waves, says DeMott. That position is backed up by decades of research on the biological effects of non-ionizing radiation, including millimeter waves. A paper published in 2005 by the engineering professional organization IEEE’s International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety reviewing more than 1,300 peer-reviewed studies on the biological effects of radio frequencies found “no adverse health effects that were not thermally related.”
To protect against heat-related effects, regulators have set limits on how much energy wireless devices can emit. “The normal consensus is that you don’t need to worry about a temperature increase of less than one degree Celsius because our bodies change by one degree Celsius in and of their own activities all the time, even at a cellular level,” DeMott says.
Researchers have yet to find conclusive evidence linking mobile phone use to cancer or other health problems. Still, fears persist, in part because of inconclusive studies. Many critics of 5G and other wireless technologies point to the fact that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic” in 2011. What they don’t usually mention is that the organization selected that designation, which also applies to coffee and pickled vegetables, after a 2010 study failed to determine whether cell phones posed a cancer risk.
A fact sheet on the WHO website dating back to 2002 is more sanguine. “In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years,” the fact sheet says. “Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.”
There are, of course, individual studies that conflict with the scientific consensus that non-ionizing radiation poses health risks beyond heat. A study published last year by the National Toxicology Program noted an increased risk of cancer among male rats exposed to low-frequency radio waves. But the report didn’t find a similar risk for female rats, nor for male or female mice. The researchers said the tumors found in male rats were similar to those seen in previous research of heavy cell phone users, but specified that the results shouldn’t be extrapolated to humans.
These sorts of atypical results are to be expected, says Swanson. If you conduct tens of thousands of studies, he explains, you can expect that hundreds will show an increase in cancer or, or some other health concern, by pure chance. That, along with a number of badly designed studies, provides fodder for critics.
But if you want a little more assurance that your phone probably is not giving you a tumor, you can take comfort in knowing that, according to statistics published by the National Cancer Institute, the rate of brain cancer in the US actually went down between 1992 and 2016 even as mobile phone use skyrocketed.
In summary, 5G will positively affect the global economy growth via $13.2 Trillion dollars of global economic output; 22.3 Million new jobs created and $2.1 Trillion dollars in GDP growth.
5G opens cutting-edge ways of improving safety and sustainability via;
Smarter electricity grids for greatly reduced carbon emissions
More connected vehicles sharing data to prevent road collisions
Faster deployment of emergency services to accidents
Connected sensors that can detect and warn of natural disasters early
Drones becoming a key tool to accelerate and support emergency situation response
Remote expertise with specialists smoothly consulting/diagnosing patients elsewhere
5G is the foundation for flexible, efficient and responsible business via;
Production lines autonomously reacting to supply and demand
Digital replicas that can warn about real machinery faults ahead of time
Logistic networks autonomously routing goods based on real-world conditions
Full traceability down to the individual item at warehouses and ports
Remote access to powerful robots and vehicles for improved safety in risky environments
Increased use of IoT in agriculture to efficiently grow crops
5G sets the stage for more immersive entertainment and more engaging education via;
Greater realism in VR, AR and extended reality (XR) with lighter devices
Delivering sensory experiences, like touch, through devices
More engaging methods of teaching through immersive content
Immersive virtual meetings to boost remote team productivity
Stable and reliable connectivity in crowded spaces
New angles and interactions for live and remote event spectators
5G have plenty of worthy benefits, such as the following:
Use of higher frequencies;
Enhanced mobile broadband;
A lower latency of 1 ms;
Higher data rates, which will enable new technology options over 5G networks, such as 4K streaming or near-real-time streaming of virtual reality (VR); and
The potential to have a 5G mobile network made up of low-band, mid-band and MM wave frequencies.
NOTE: Additional information from: Qualcomm, Ericsson, T-mobile and Search Networking
Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and a Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org