Why it matters: As 5G continues its gradual global rollout, there are concerns among many of what the new technology could bring in terms of health risks. Critics argue that the threat and risks posed by electromagnetic radiation of 5G infrastructure towards humans and the environment is potentially higher than previous generations of mobile technology. A protest regarding this issue was held over the weekend in the Swiss capital of Bern as 5G looks to expand in the country.
Public concerns over 5G continue to put the spotlight on health risks that the technology could supposedly bring as thousands of new antennas get deployed in cities and urban centers.
Telecom operators in Switzerland began the installation of new 5G-compatible antennas earlier this year and the technology has become divisive for the Swiss public, where some put it as a necessity for economic development while others are fearful of the increased radiation coming from the antennas. This has resulted in antenna construction projects running into petitions, political interference and opposition.
Over the weekend, thousands protested in the city of Bern and gathered outside the Swiss parliament building with placards to voice their concerns for halting the construction of more 5G antennas.
"The fact that so many people turned out today is a strong sign against the uncontrolled introduction of 5G," said Tamlin Schibler Ulmann, co-president of Frequenica, the group that organized the rally. Opponents of 5G say that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the new antennas pose unprecedented health and environmental risks compared to previous technologies.
Online petitions have also proven effective, causing several Swiss cantons in Geneva, Vaud, Fribourg and Neuchatel to postpone antennae construction, while the Swiss Federation of Doctors (FMH) has also advised in taking a cautious approach towards the new technology.
The opponents have also initiated a referendum requiring 100,000 signatures to go into effect that aims to suspend further 5G advancements until a thorough risk assessment of the technology is conducted.
In the US, the FCC recently reiterated 5G as being safe to use and the Swiss government appointed a group of experts last year to assess the risks associated with the introduction of this tech. Their findings are expected to be published by the end of this year.