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  • Sahriar Shuvo - Tech Journalist

How will 5G impact the environment?

5G is up to 100 times faster than 4G which is 10Gbps compared to 4G LTE, 50 Mbps. But does it have the potential to do more harm to us than good? Is it really necessary to lose environmental values just for connectivity speed? It was not long ago that 3G (HSPA+) was mainstream with an 8 Mbps connection. We can even remember 2G on 64 Kbps transfer rate as general internet for the common population. With the deployment of 5G, infrastructures, communication, connectivity is going for a huge push. But is 5G an unmixed blessing? Let’s find out!



Major Network Infrastructure

Networking whales like Cisco, Verizon, Samsung, T-Mobile, AT&T, and plenty more are working together to make 5G available to a broader population. On the other hand, biologists and environmentalists are still not sure of the impact that 5G will cause on our environment. Of course, we go ahead and create any type of energy, it burns other forms of energy. Because energy can only be transferred, neither created nor destroyed. Basic physics it is. We burn coal, gas, oil to create energy similarly. There are many hoaxes and theories on the 5G environmental impact. Some controversies about 5G make us think and re-evaluate the long-term environmental impact.


Frequency Dissection

If you ever attended high school physics, chances are electromagnetic spectrum is already familiar to you. It has frequencies of different wavelengths and can travel in a different way or via a different medium. FM, AM radio signal, X-Ray, light rays, millimetre waves (mm-Wave), all follow the same pattern. The radio signal mentioned above has a 3 kHz to 300 GHz frequency and the first G wave or what we call it. 1G had a frequency around 850 MHZ and 1900 MHz Today on the most common 4G network, the frequency is 2.3 to 2.5 GHz. But our subject 5G, has a frequency spectrum of 28 GHz and 39 GHz. That’s a massive improvement of frequency used if you just get the plain math here. And it doesn’t come cheap. It may be a more practical and faster connectivity opportunity but to run this jet, we need to burn more fuel.


Environmental Impact

Summarising a mobility report by Ericsson, there will be a 35% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in 2024. And alongside the network growth, energy usage will also increase. Supplement analysis by ITU-T L. - methods and metrics to measure energy efficiency in 5G systems, with consideration of stability degree for the systems known so far, and the experience of the legacy systems as well as related measurement procedures for evaluating feature standardisation evaluation.


5G waves don’t have the energy to break down human DNA molecules. So, it will not cause you cancer. But its high frequency may have an impact on insects and a case study published on Nature, said insects are prone to exposure to high-frequency electromagnetic fields. And the range can be as little as 2 to 120 GHz. This is a matter of concern since these insects help maintain an ecological balance and most importantly, they are also life forms.


So far, no major detrimental effects have been found that are caused directly by 5G. But being exposed to high-frequency waves for a long time is not good for health. As we know the spectrum mm Waves is bad for insects. Most importantly the energy needed to transmit the networking power for global use should be optimal and better than the previous gen.

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