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Time for grown-up debate about 5G

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4 mins read

With digital technology undoubtedly the backbone of leaps in the economic and social spheres, one cannot ignore the growing voices concerned about the health impact from the introduction of fast broadband communication, or 5G.

Those in favour of installing the new network platforms, to roll out the system to the general public by 2025, argue that the benefits far outweigh any health hazard which, they say, would be limited if not insignificant.

Businesses and the academic world in Cyprus have been moaning for ages that the island’s telecom infrastructure is among the slowest in Europe, impeding any development or increase in competitiveness of the services industry, the tiny R&D world, the near-non-existent IT sector and the occasional start-up, popping up randomly on our map.

Yet, introducing a 5G network would demand a drastic leap in the number of transmitters, to the stage that Carl Sagan-era theorists say someday, we might have mini antennas planted every few steps to meet the rapid demand for smart devices, location-based technologies and what is now called ‘Internet of Things’.

One of the side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been to identify shortcoming in the state infrastructure when it comes to communications and inter-departmental cooperation.

A problem that had not been resolved all these years due to the unwillingness of civil servants.

This is where the newly established Deputy Ministry for Innovation and Digital Technology stepped in, fast-tracking some procedures that had been lingering for too long.

This is the same department that is actively promoting the introduction of 5G, saying this will drastically change communication technology on the island and will be monitoring the procurement stage of the new platform that should be ready by the end of the year.

This is also an excellent opportunity for the junior ministry to come forward with a campaign based on simple messages, unlike the sentiment-based ‘news’ and sensationalist comments spreading like wildfire on social media that have fuelled the opposition to 5G, resulting in some mobile telecom transmission antennas being burnt or destroyed.

The allegation has been that these transmitters are helping the Covid19 virus mutate and violate our livelihood.

As much as those opposing the introduction of 5G and the installation of new transmission antennas that will come with it have a vested interest in not wanting this technological advancement, the telecom companies, too, have a vested interest in imposing the new platforms on consumers.

They will avidly argue for introducing this innovation and even say that the older communication platforms of 4G and 3G are outdated and need to be replaced, obliging consumers to upscale their smart devices as well.

We need a voice of sanity that will clearly explain the pros and cons of 5G, without whitewashing the international norm, sufficed with “we follow what is done elsewhere.”

Are we adopting a system, as yet medically unproven, just because our EU partners and Brussels technocrats told us so?

Can we not have an opinion of our own?