Following a request from Brussels, the Portuguese government is to evaluate the risks of 5G (5th generation) telecommunications networks, stressing that it wants ‘full responsibility’ from all the companies involved.
The story is being presented today against the backdrop that the perceived dangers of 5G are “not new” and that this may be more about the so-called threat posed by Huawei than anything else (click here).
But that’s only if you read the Portuguese papers.
Elsewhere, concerns over 5G are a great deal more strident – and there are no paragraphs talking about a roll-out “starting in the last three months of 2019 and continuing until May 2020” (which both ECO and Observador affirm).
How, if the government is ‘evaluating the risks’, can it have a roll-out already programmed?
Reuters declared as early as last summer that Portugal’s telecoms operator Altice was adamant the Portuguese market “would be one of the first globally to be able to use this (5G) technology”.
Concerns over the use of Huawei routers appear to have overshadowed expert warnings, addressed to the European parliament by doctors and scientists, over radiation.
These warnings have already seen certain local authorities (like Swiss canton Vaud) suspend 5G plans altogether.
Brussels too is clearly ‘not convinced’ – hence the appeal to all member states to carry out their own research.
Said Belgian environment minister Céline Fremault last month: “I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen, are not respected, 5G or not…The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit. We cannot leave anything to doubt.
Yet the Portuguese media approach appears to be that ‘yes evaluation must take place, but the plan to free a 700 mega-hertz band for 5G is nonetheless on track to start this year, requiring a migration of TDT television to another frequency’.
What are the concerns of 5G?
In a nutshell, it is thought to be a form of radiation overkill, that will seriously affect not only human health, but the sustainability of animals and plants.
A letter sent to the EU in 2017 by 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries, including Portugal, recommended a moratorium on the roll-out until potential hazards had been assessed by scientists independent from industry.
As one of the letter’s initiators, Swedish cancer specialist Lennart Hardell explained: “The media praise in particular all the possibilities that this technology promises to offer, such as the self-propelled car and Internet of Things (IoT).
“The consequences for the health of humans, plants and animals are not discussed at all.
“Politicians, governments and the media are responsible for unbalanced information.
“Ordinary people are not informed of conflicting opinions about this technological development”.
Indeed, far from it, in Portugal we are being told that 5G technology is ‘the future’ and the way to ensure ‘a much faster Internet’.
Sales pitches made by operators do not ever go into health concerns, or even mention the fact that Brussels has asked member states to evaluate the risks before moving forwards.