Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest mobile operator, announced that it has achieved its plan to reach 90% of Switzerland’s population with 5G signals by the end of 2019.
The installed infrastructure will allow it to deliver a basic service, which will be slower than the final version but still 1,000 times more effective than 4G.
The first services will be commercialised in 2020, according to Urs Schaeppi from Swisscom. 5G compatible devices will be available from the first quarter of 2020.
Switzerland is a world leader in the rollout of 5G technology. Only the US has more 5G deployments than Switzerland, according to speedtest.net.
At the same time, rollout of 5G technology has met with resistance in Switzerland. The organisation Frequencia has organised protests across the country and more than 50 percent of the Swiss population is concerned about the potential health effects of mobile telecommunication. Schaeppi points to a contradiction. “People are railing against the mobile phone masts, but at the same time are using the infrastructure more than ever”, he said.
Broadly, there are two kinds of electromagnetic radiation: ionising and non-ionising. Most scientists agree that high frequency ionising radiation, which includes ultraviolet rays, x-rays and gamma rays, can be harmful in high doses and cause cellular damage including cancer. However, the risks posed by non-ionising radiation, which include radio frequency, mobile spectrum and microwave radiation, are less known to the public and more controversial among scientists.
Many scientists say there is no convincing evidence that the non-ionising frequencies used for mobile phone networks cause cellular damage. They argue this radiation lacks sufficient energy to break DNA.
However, other scientists argue that non-ionising radiation, like ionising radiation, can also cause cellular damage, immune system dysfunction and neurological disorders and that its effects could extend to animals and plants.
Many of the scientists who see risks in 5G see many of the same risks in other EM radiation, such as that emitted from earlier mobile technology, power lines and leaky microwaves. A list of more than 1,500 peer reviewed research reports on the impacts of EM radiation can be viewed here. Joel M. Moskowitz, an expert on the subject at the University of California, wrote in the Scientific American that he thinks the IARC (a branch of the World Health Organisation) is likely to upgrade the carcinogenic potential of EM radiation from possibly carcinogenic to probably carcinogenic in the near future.
Both 5G rollout and and scientific research on the matter look set to continue.