Symposium on 5G:
“5W on 5G”
We have released our report on 5G symposium. We believe that this material provides interesting insights into the challenges in 5G infrastructure rollout such as late COVID-19 & the alleged 5G link conspiracy theories. We highlight the benefits and the possibilities brought by the 5G technologies in the are of connectivity, business, manufacturing, transportation, education and sustainable, green development.
The aim of the symposium was to provide a clear explanation and elaboration about 5G technologies. Specifically, we introduced the audience to basic concepts from the radio-communication domain; we described the technological progress in the last decade and discussed the opportunities and challenges that accompany the full 5G implementation. For better understanding of the domain we encouraged the participants to engage in follow-up conversations. In particular, the elaboration was followed by a discussion over the existing standards, health and safety regulations with emphasis on the specific unique properties of the emerging 5G networks. In particular, we intended to cover all positive features that 5G networks bring, including their role for high speed communication and Internet of things transformations.
We discussed all the facts presented in the light of the recent accusations, and misinformation online that led to many cases of public scrutiny of 5G network expansion. The clarifications have been expected by the public in particular in the context of a significant level of unjustified concerns linking 5G technologies and the spread of the recent COVID-19 virus. Therefore the symposium came very timely in terms of broad public discussions.
Finally, we also looked “beyond the curtain” and tried to imagine the 5G and the world of the future powering it and elaborated upon both utopian and dystopian scenarios. We attempted to link 5G to philosophical and “mystical” concepts that can obfuscate its truly functional and science-based objectives. However, our goal was to keep the discussions as open-minded as possible and the moderators guarded the inclusivity of the discourse so that no position or idea, even the most unexpected and revolutionary was missed. Specifically, we dedicated one moderator to “convey the voice of the public” who communicated the messages from stakeholders received live throughout the symposium to the speakers. Therefore making the symposium more inclusive.
5G Technologies Opportunities and Challenges
Our panellists pointed out that 5G technologies are going to change the basic fabric of the communication infrastructure by allowing low latency connections (below 30ms) and up to 100x times faster connectivity at 10Gbps rates. 5G should be considered a broader concept than 4G or 3G brining a major change to the core network therefore introducing completely new way of integration of many telecommunication services with emphasis and virtualisation and software’isation of many components. Policy makers indicated that 5G technologies will allow further broadband penetration to remote and rural areas addressing the issue of digital divide and equal access to online services. 5G is will help not only human-to-human communication but will allow broader IoT applications and more flexible use of smart infrastructures and robotic solutions. Some of the key benefits mentioned in discussion included, smart education, smart transportation and smart manufacturing reliant on fast wireless core infrastructures. A representative of mainstream media (BBC) and UNESCO stressed that 5G will help to sustain the existing broadcasters by optimising live-transmission approaches while creating new opportunities for live-news reporting that may help to address the major problem with disinformation and misinformation.
The fast rollout of 5G technologies was mentioned as a pivotal instrument of economic recovery plan to address the devastation of pandemics. 5G technologies will help to support and create entire new line of business services and help to optimise the existing ones. Due to significantly better energy efficiency in comparison to 4G and 3G technologies, the emerging wireless technologies will help to meet the needs of new green economy by not only directly decreasing energy consumption by the infrastructures but also by supporting emerging, better energy management solutions linked to smart technologies. Fast rollout of 5G technologies is considered as essential to meet the increasing demand on data exchange between rapidly growing number of mobile and connected smart devices. Emerging new communication technologies such as “Smart Glasses” expected to replace the smartphones will be the major, daily interface that requires 5G speeds and latency.
The major challenges for 5G technologies rollout include political obstacles driven by unjustified fears as well as economical obstacles. Numerous anti-5G campaigns created a lot of damage to the process of updating the European infrastructure, keeping EU behind some of the major Asian players that will have very strong economic implications in the near future.
Speakers agreed that regardless of the cost, a full support needs to be given by the authorities to ensure wide 5G technologies deployment as matter of urgency as a solution to economic recovery and future development.
5G conspiracy theories and disinformation
Panel II answered the most anticipated questions about the potential risks related to 5G rollout in the context of the pandemics.
The event composed of experts concluded that 5G does not create additional risks by allegedly introducing greater EMF radiation than 4G or 3G technologies. In fact, participants stressed that if anything, the shorter range of transmitters and more power efficiency actually ensures less EMF radiation than previous technologies.
The participants uniformly declared any information or statement linking 5G rollout and the COVID-19 pandemics as dangerous fake news that should be handled immediately as a great risk to stability in challenging time. Nevertheless, some panellists pointed out to ongoing research into potential risks of high-frequency EMF exposure that will be published soon, including a comprehensive report by WHO expected to be released in 2022. To the date no evidence has been presented supporting the thesis that current and emerging wireless technologies can be harmful.
The panellists warned that it is of utmost importance to ensure that general public is provided with relevant, contextualised information and insisted that relevant education programs need to be rolled out to ensure that any disinformation on the topic is rejected by the public. The experts warned about common terminology mistakes and confusion between EMF radiation and radiation caused by radioactive radiation, linked with nuclear technologies. No clarity in terminology can lead to bad sentiment and unnecessary resistance to innovation and evolution of existing infrastructures. While the complex, cross-domain topics such as 5G technologies require significant knowledge to understand that basic concept around it, strong effort must be made by governments and NGOs to ensure that relevant information is provided in an understandable form to the general public.
The future of ultra-connected society
Our experts listed numerous benefits that 5G technologies will support in the near future. A vision of smart cities benefiting from self-driving cars, smart augmented reality-driven connectivity and smart, flexible robotic and manufacturing was presented. In particular, speakers stressed that improved connectivity will help us solve some of the major problems with transportation and climate change, therefore contributing directly to sustainable development goals. A vision of better-connected society was presented through the prism of fast, widely-available smooth audio-video & data streaming offering better and more ubiquitous mainstream broadcasting services and instant high-quality news that would severely address the current issues related to disinformation through quality, rapid factual reporting and monitoring. Ultra-connected society brings the promise of more equal education and further lowering the gaps between the cities and rural areas by ensuring efficient remote work opportunities and limiting the need for local and long-distance commuting.