We are all aware that the world is transitioning from 4G to 5G, but what exactly are the differences between these technologies and how does this affect our health? The move to 5G is motivated by the need for faster speed and higher bandwidth in the communication between devices, which includes people’s cell phones, cars, or even refrigerators in today’s internet of things. This is achieved by 5G’s shorter, more compact waves allowing for more data to be transferred in the same amount of time. The waves in a 5G signal, at 1cm to 1mm (0.4” to 0.04”) in length, are much shorter than those of 4G, at 50cm to 5cm (20” to 2”) in length.

However the 5G signal has a shorter effective range and is more easily blocked by barriers, such as buildings. To get around this problem 5G towers must be placed more densely than their 4G predecessors. The 5G signal range can also be separated into a low and a high frequency band with the high band consisting of shorter, millimeter waves, and the low band of those closer to a centimeter in length. The high band provides faster data transfer speeds, but has a much shorter range and is much more easily interrupted by barriers than the low band. Because of this, 5G towers generally can not provide high band connections. To get around this and to provide high band 5G signal to small areas so-called “small cell” 5G stations were designed to be placed at street level, integrated into street-side objects like lamp posts, electric poles, traffic lights, and more.

Over the last three decades, as cell phone technology has become more and more common, we have seen a 66% increase in the annual cancer-related deaths as well as a dramatic rise in electro-sensitivity among the population. It is unclear what long term health effects 5G technology may have on human health. With its much higher wave frequency and street level placement, the exposure to 5G signals will undoubtedly increase. Perhaps we will see the negative effects manifest themselves much sooner? Only time will tell.

References:
https://ourworldindata.org/cancer
https://gupea.ub.gu.se//handle/2077/4156
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTE_frequency_bands
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5G