What is 5G and how does it work?

5G is the latest generation mobile phone technology. As with previous cellular technologies, 5G networks rely on signals carried by radio waves – part of the electromagnetic spectrum – transmitted between an antenna or mast and your phone.

5G has a range of additional technical capabilities designed to provide more bandwidth. In addition to providing much more capacity for data and video, 5G will support a wide range of new applications such as remote health services and driverless cars.

It will operate on higher frequency radio waves than earlier mobile networks, which allows more devices to have access to the internet at the same time and at faster speeds.

These waves travel shorter distances through urban spaces, so 5G networks will require more transmitter masts than previous technologies, which are positioned closer to ground level.

The work already completed by CSW in our region has helped to deliver the extensive fibre optic connectivity that 5G will require to operate effectively.

Who is responsible for ensuring that 5G is safe?

Public Health England (PHE) is the UK government agency which takes the lead on public health matters associated with the use of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in telecommunications. They have issued the following guidance regarding radio waves and 5G.

Central to this advice is that exposure to radio waves should comply with the guidelines set out by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) – a body formally recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO).

PHE’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards has carried out extensive research on 5G radio waves and they have stated that they anticipate no negative impacts on public health.

While a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves is possible when 5G is added to the existing network, this exposure is expected to remain low and well within the ICNIRP guidelines. PHE is committed to monitoring the evidence regarding 5G and other radio technologies, and will revise its advice, should that be necessary.

5G networks are licensed and strictly regulated by Ofcom within the public health guidance set by PHE and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). In addition, the UK’s mobile industry has made a voluntary commitment to comply with international guidelines and to provide certificates of compliance with planning applications for mobile base stations.

The individual UK mobile network operators publish their policies in relation to mobile phones, masts and public health on their websites.