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Communications experts clear the air, say no link between COVID-19 and 5G technology

Posted by News Express | 12 May 2020 | 598 times

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•ALTON Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo


The Association of Licensed Telecommunication Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has reassured Nigerians of the safety of all the effects of telecommunications operations including their EMF emissions as every aspect of the services are certified harmless to human health.

It said services are not only regulated in line with international regulatory agencies’ guidelines but also by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the country industry regulator.

This is following unverified theories being spread about 5G on various News Media which they say are not grounded in accepted scientific theory and therefore are baseless.

In a release by ALTON Chairman, Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, the association said “telecommunications masts and towers in Nigeria are safe and their EMF emissions are not harmful to human health as they are not only regulated in line with international regulatory agencies’ guidelines but also by the NCC.”

While urging Nigerians to trust health and telecom regulatory authorities, they said it is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked in some places, based on outright mistruths maintaining that communications technology is safe as there is no link between 5G technology and Covid-19.

“The telecoms industry is working round the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services online, businesses running, and friends and families connected, he maintained.

“Nigeria progressed from 1G to the current 4G which most networks offer to their subscribers today. Even with all the virtues of the novel 5G, our BTS Sites across the country are still bereft of this technology. We will want to re-emphasize that several studies have been carried out even before the 5G emergence, indicating that the microwave emissions from these infrastructures have no harmful effect on human health. 

“Research into the safety of radio signals, which has been conducted for more than 50 years, has led to the establishment of human exposure standards including safety factors that protect against all established health risks. The Electro Magnetic Fields on masts and towers are so insignificant when compared to microwave cooker at home, our television set and computers we use most of the time.”

He expressed ALTON’s concern that the laying of fibre cables are associated with rumours around the rollout of 5G and therefore affirms that fibre cables are used to safeguard the existing 1G/2G/3G/4G networks and provide additional capacity to the existing networks, which is intended to enhance user experience and network availability. He added that Fibre cables are also used to replace microwave equipment, thereby reducing equipment on telecommunications masts.

“ALTON therefore states that damaging or limiting the laying of fibre cables will severely affect the ability of Network Operators to provide the necessary services to both subscribers and enterprise customers and this will adversely impact the integrity of the networks. We hereby state unequivocally that there is NO association whatsoever between the laying of fibre cables with the rollout of 5G, as 5G is not yet licensed in Nigeria,” he said.

In a similar reaction, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) through its National Chairman, Mr. Olusola Teniola, said having not been substantiated by any conclusive empirical evidence either by the World Health Organization (WHO) or other health research institutions, the suggestion that 5G technology is a causative factor of Coronavirus pandemic remain baseless and should be discountenanced by Nigerians.

The association insisted that a technology (5G) that has not been deployed in a country cannot be a source of health issues in the same country, saying there has presently been no issuance of 5G Licence to any members of ATCON to build and deploy 5G technology in Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). He affirmed what has happened recently was just a trial of the 5G technology by one of their members which was well supervised by the telecoms regulator.

In his words, “currently, Nigeria's networks are made up of 2G, 3G and 4G. In 2014, the WHO stated clearly that there is not yet any conclusive scientific evidence to the effect that there are adverse health effects caused by telecommunications infrastructures to human with respect to exposure to the non-ionising radiation emitting by telecoms base stations.

ATCON, as the umbrella association of all telecommunications companies in Nigeria, would like to state unequivocally that it would not be part of the deployment of any technology in-country that would put the health of any Nigerian at risk, as we believe the health of end-users of any technological advancement comes as a priority in the deployment consideration of such technology by our members to provide services to Nigerians.

The NCC also said that it has not issued any 5G Technology licence to any company in Nigeria and can authoritatively say no such deployment is in the country. This, it said, is aside the fact that there is actually no proven link between the network and Coronavirus saying the closest the country has come to the technology was three months ago in 2019 when it approved the trial. The test was meant to study and observe any health or security challenges the technology might present, of which members of the security agencies were invited to participate at the trial.  

Giving further clearance, the Commission said 5G is simply the fifth generation of mobile technology, an improvement on the 4G that is currently in use in the country with enhanced capabilities. This provides the platform for new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence AI, Internet of Things IoT and Big Data for improvement of the way we live and work. It goes to say that much as Nigeria has spectrum for 5G particularly the millimetre wave spectrum from 24GHz and above, the licence would be auctioned to interested network providers when all these doubts are cleared.

“We have been regularly conducting measurements of radiation emissions from base stations across the country and they have remained well below the set limits, and we urge the general public to only rely on information from such bodies as WHO, ITU, IEEE and other such industry experts when in doubt, not otherwise.”

Source: News Express

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