Misleading opinion on 5G small cells presented by the ABC News is simply a lie.

On January 6th, 2019 (with an update on Jan. 7th) ABC News in Australia posted a story on installation in residential areas of small cells that will be used by the 5G networks. The story was aimed at assuring the residents, who are having small cell boxes installed by Telstra and Optus in the vicinity of their homes, that there is no health problem whatsoever because radiation emitted by the small cells is the same as 4G network radiation that is already emitted by the large antennas.

ABC News was saying, in the Australian way, “no worries mate”…

However, there is something badly wrong with the opinion presented by the ABC News’ journalists, Ashleigh Raper and Nick Sas, and by the scientific expert used by the ABC News, Dr. Geza Benke of the Monash University in Melbourne.

Raper and Sas said:

“…The small cell boxes are used for 4G and mobile services in suburban areas, and are less powerful than the larger telecommunication towers generally used by companies such as Optus and Telstra…”

“…Small cell boxes will become commonplace as the 5G rollout gathers pace…”

Geza Benke’s opinions were presented in the ABC News’ story as follows:

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“…Monash University Occupational and Environmental Health Geza Benke said although the “perception of risk” differed from person to person, from his perspective, residents living near small cell boxes had nothing to worry about.

“The exposure which people get from these antenna is no more than you would get from a large antenna,” Dr Benke said.

“They’re operating at the same frequencies.”

He [Dr.Benke] said over the next two years the small cell boxes would become commonplace, as they are considered a critical component of “filling in the gaps” for the high-speed 5G network…”.

Both opinions, presented by Raper, Sas and Benke, are misleading and might be simply lies.

Firstly, the primary purpose for installation of the small cells is not the 4G but the future 5G networks that will emit both, the same radiation as 4G networks and additionally new kind of radiation – millimeter waves.

Of course, small cells currently emit radiation used in 4G networks. However, in the future the small cells will emit novel kind of radiation, the millimeter waves, that are the basis for the rapid transmission of huge amount of data over the 5G network. This will facilitate the development of the Internet-of-Things (IoT), including self-driving cars.

It is absolutely misleading, or simply a lie (because the expert knows it), the statement by Geza Benke that small cells “They are operating at the same frequencies [as large antennas].” This statement is to assure residents that there is nothing new with small cells, same radiation as earlier… but weaker…

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Indeed, right now, for the relatively short period of time, the small cells emit solely the same radiation as large antennas but their purpose is to emit millimeter waves for the 5G networks, and this will happen very soon, as soon as 2020!

Why the small boxes do not emit now millimeter waves? Reason is very simple, there are no commercially available hand-held devices that can use millimeter waves. Mobile phones that will be able to receive 5G network-emitted millimeter waves are still being developed and will become available in the near future.

Therefore, the falsely assuring comments, where journalists and expert state that the small cells emit the same radiation as large antennas, is misleading or a lie.

The small cells’ purpose is to emit millimeter waves, once the 5G networks are activated by the operators… and this will happen only after the mobile phones able to receive 5G signal become commercially available for the general public (see story & story)

Therefore, small cells are not “the business as before”. The small cells will emit different radiation than the radiation emitted by the large antennas currently used in the 4G networks.

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Do we know what might be health effects of the 5G millimeter waves? The answer is simply – no, we do not know, because we did not research this topic. Assurances, presented by the telecoms, that research has been done are false. Research concerning technology has been done but research concerning biological and health effects has not been performed sufficiently to provide scientific assurances of safety.

[for more information on what we know about the health effects of millimeter waves see  slides of my lecture presented on May 8th, 2018 at the ARPANSA in Melbourne, my report from the EMERG meeting at ARPANSA, and Guest Blog from Steve Weller]