LIFE-SAVING surgery, driverless cars, health concerns, insomnia and now even Russian hackers – the new 5G broadband technology about to be rolled out through Fremantle is certainly a mixed bag.
White Gum Valley and Hilton are slated as Freo’s first suburbs to get coverage as Optus steps into the market by 2020, while a large arc through Melville from Applecross to Leeming is already covered by Telstra, which recently released the 5G-compatible Samsung Galaxy S10 smart phone into the market.
The new 5G network is not just a level up from 4G, but also a couple of steps ahead, allowing smartphones to connect more easily with other devices and boosting healthcare with better imaging, diagnostics and treatment. Its super-fast speed is expected to make driverless cars safer, turning a split-second decision to avoid collisions into micro-seconds.
But there are some who argue that the proliferation of “cells” to transmit the technology is putting people’s health at risk, with a rally planned in Perth’s Supreme Court Gardens on June 22 as part of a national campaign.
And then, just to muddy that water a little further, last month the New York Times reported that a Kremlin-owned television station linked to the hacking scandal in the last US presidential election had been stoking those health fears as part of a political plan to destabilise America’s 5G rollout.
Perth environmental scientist and electromagnetic field consultant Una Phelan is a member of Stop 5G Perth and is concerned the jump from 4G to 5G may cause serious long-term health issues, particularly in women and children.
“There will be these small cells basically like mobile cell towers shrunk down into small transmitters, placed outside our homes without our consent,” Ms Phelan recently told supporters at a Living Well expo in Claremont.
“There is going to be no getting away from 5G, you walk to the shops, the park, you are going to be zapped by these small cells.”
Stop 5G Perth has been operating since May and has gathered around 600 members.
South Fremantle resident Bobby Wilson is a seasoned campaigner on public health risks and says being hyper-sensitive to electromagnetic fields, the rollout of 5G could have a big impact on her life.
Ms Wilson said 4G already hinders her sleep and claimed the launch of 5G would make it worse.
However, the industry points out that while 5G is higher up the radiation spectrum than its predecessor, it’s still well below levels considered harmful to human health, such as ultraviolet light or x-rays. In fact, its radiation is lower in the spectrum than the average remote control for a telly.
by SHREYA PILO