The latest wireless digital network technology, 5G, is promised to provide stronger internet access for mobile phones. But, some health experts believe that it’s harmful to human health. A new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review of the scientific data finally breaks it down.
What Is 5G?
A recent piece in the New York Times describes two different types of 5G. One it terms the “much-hyped, ultrafast variant of 5G is known as ‘millimeter wave,’” is super fast, but its signals can only travel short distances. It also has difficulty penetrating walls and buildings, making it only truly efficient outdoors. So carriers are only deploying this version in large outdoor spaces, like stadiums.
As Parentology reports, this means that networks are shifting over to a different “vanilla 5G” version. It’s projected to be about 20% faster than 4G, which the website as “not that miraculous.”
Is 5G Worth It?
PC Mag ran tests in 26 cities to test 5G on all three major US carriers. “We found that AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s 5G feels a lot like 4G, and while Verizon’s 5G feels radically different, it has very little coverage.”
In short, a 5G phone’s performance isn’t about the hardware you purchased, but the network you’re using. So, if you have the new iPhone but you are running on AT&T, you’ll be stuck at 4G levels with occasional 5G boosts. Verizon and sometimes T-Mobile are a not better.
Bottom line? Save on the new phone purchase until the networks catch up.
Is 5G Safe to Use?
Some people think that the radiation emitted by cell phones can cause brain damage, reproductive disorders and other health issues. They believe that the stronger the wireless digital network, the risk greater.
So, what does the FDA say?
The FDA has made it clear that radiation levels are within the acceptable limits laid out by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exposure guidelines. Specifically the FDA website says:
- The current limit on radio frequency (RF) energy set by the Federal Communications Commission remains acceptable for protecting the public health. The FDA recently provided an updated assessment of the current limits based on the currently available scientific evidence (see Letter from the FDA to the FCC on Radiofrequency Exposure – PDF 74KB).
- To date, there is no consistent or credible scientific evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones (see Review of Published Literature between 2008 and 2018 of Relevance to Radiofrequency Radiation and Cancer – PDF 1.3MB).
As The Atlantic notes, this kind of conspiracy isn’t new. In the 1970s it was believed that low-frequency electromagnetic fields were emanating from power lines. During the Cold War it was believed that radiation from televisions and microwave ovens were killing people. That moved on to cell phones, and just last year some people though 5G caused the coronavirus.
Conspiracies abound, but for the moment there are the facts: The FDA and the World Health Organization say 5G is safe. That’s what we know.