Limits on the extent to which Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei will be involved in Portugal’s developing 5G network are expected to be announced today, writes Expresso.
The decision will be taken at the weekly ‘council of ministers’ and follows advice from Brussels about reducing exposure to “high risk” suppliers.
Brussels’ warning to all member states essentially focused on the advantages of using “various suppliers” so that no country found itself “dependent” on one alone.
Explain reports, this would almost certainly affect “the scale and depth of the use of Huawei technology in the nation’s future 5G network” as the company is one of the technological partners of national operators Altice and NOS.
Intriguing in this story is the fact that when US secretary of state Mike Pompeo visited Lisbon in January, news stories claimed Portugal had rebuffed US concerns over 5G business with Huawei (click here).
Now, reports are referring to comments made by secretary of state for communications Alberto Souto Miranda last spring, suggesting Portugal was likely to follow Germany’s lead in how to deal with the situation.
Said Mr Miranda, Germany isn’t setting out to ‘banish’ any particular suppliers. Instead it has created a set of security measures through which companies must pass in order for the use of their equipment to qualify.
Today’s developments are expected as the telecoms market awaits information on the imminent 5G ‘auction’, to be held sometime in April.
The idea, says Jornal Económico, is for the national ‘roll-out’ of 5G to begin in June.
Controversy over safety of 5G
It has been described as 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 from 180 scientists and doctors from 36 countries – including Portugal – recommended a moratorium on the roll-out until potential hazards have 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”.
And thus social media has gone into a form of ‘anti-5G’ overdrive.
It’s difficult not to find a scare story about the technology, larded with references to how we will all be ‘fried’.
Industry boffins, of course, have a different point of view – largely discounting scare stories as ‘silly speculation’, and pointing out that “we are already living with domestic routers that operate on several frequencies, some of them way above the 3.4 to 3.6 gigs of 5G”.
A recent article in Euronews extolled the advantages of the new technology, saying: “Its benefits are clear: the improved speed and latency of the network enables the creation of smart cities, remote surgeries, and super-fast downloads, among countless other functionalities”.
But it accepted that “one question remains largely unaddressed: what are the health risks, if any, associated with 5G?”
Have the effects of 5G waves on our health been studied enough, the website pondered, reporting an answer, from Dariusz Leszczynski – presented as an expert in molecular biology and Adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki, Finland – who said : “The assurances of safety concerning 5G-emitted radiation are based solely on the assumption that low amounts of radiation are safe, not on biomedical research”.
As to the effects of millimetre waves that 5G will tap into, he said: “We don’t know what they will mean in practice for our immune systems.”
“High-frequency waves only penetrate a few millimetres into the body and this is being used as a ‘no worries’ card by industries — but our skin is the biggest organ in the body and is linked to numerous things, including immune response.”
The Euronews article appeared to push the industry contention that there is nothing to show 5G will affect public health, but it concluded with a whole section on “What can I do to protect myself?” – the bottom line being: cut down on long talks on your mobile phone, switch off mobile data when carrying it in your pocket or on your body, and use speaker-phone as much as possible.
Meantime, the World Health Organisation has stressed it does not perform or fund research into 5G, but will “review the scientific evidence when the technology is deployed and relevant published health data are available”.