5G is safe for end users

Being the fifth generation mobile network, 5G is a new global wireless standard.

IN today’s age of connectivity, information - both verified and otherwise - travels far and wide. An interesting topic that has made the rounds has to do with 5G and its purported hazards due to the emission of radio waves. Simply put, there is no evidence to suggest that 5G - at the various frequencies over which they are transmitted - causes any illness to end users.

According to an expert on the subject, Prof Tharek Abdul Rahman from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Faculty of Electronic Engineering, 5G technology uses radio frequency, which is the same as the one used by radio (FM and AM), TV, mobile phones, WiFi and even satellites. Tharek is also a commissioner with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

He explains that in the electromagnetic spectrum, radio and light frequency, including infrared, are categorised as non-ionising, meaning these waves do not emit enough energy to negatively impact health and cause cancer. The only discernible effect from these waves is a mild heating effect.

He cites the sun as an example, “The frequency emitted by the sun is 1,000 times higher than radio frequency - in this aspect, you can see that the sun emits an even higher frequency than the radio waves we are using. However, as the frequency is non-ionising, it is still safe and does not cause cancer and other adverse health effects. The more dangerous frequencies are from UV, x-ray and Gamma rays.”

Separately, the MCMC has conducted research on electromagnetic frequency (EMF) with local universities.

All reviews conducted so far have indicated that exposure below the limits recommended in the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP EMF) guidelines, covering the full frequency range from 0-300 GHz, do not produce any known adverse health effects.

New connectivity, new applications

5G is a global telecommunications standard that, when fully fleshed out, will enable mass connectivity among people and devices at a scale presently impossible to achieve with the current 4G network.

Thanks to the significant bandwidth and latency improvements over the current 4G network, 5G could be a major economic gamechanger, allowing unprecedented levels of connectivity in any number of industries.

For instance, the healthcare sector is a major potential beneficiary. The vastly improved connectivity and data volume capabilities would, to start with, allow for non-emergency consultations, diagnosis and monitoring to be done at home.

Dubbed “remote patient monitoring”, this refers to a broad ecosystem of portable, non-invasive healthcare devices for the home that could seamlessly connect and transmit crucial healthcare data to a physician or hospital server. This allows healthcare providers to monitor patients, both remotely and in near real-time.

Over the longer term, 5G connectivity could be paired with presently available but highly specialised robotic surgical applications. The technology could eventually mature to the point where a medical doctor in one location could remotely control a surgical machine in another location with an almost imperceptible delay and pinpoint accuracy.

With 5G already available in parts of Selangor, Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Kuala Lumpur and Johor, Malaysia is on the right track towards achieving its digital aspirations.

By end-June, coverage will extend to parts of Penang and Perak, with Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak to follow by end-Q3 2022.

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