Nine 5G myths and conspiracy theories debunked

The fifth-generation (5G) of wireless communication is here. It has been currently in all major regions across the world, including the United States, China, Australia, the UK, South Korea, and Japan, with large-scale deployments to follow in 2020 and 2021.

In commercial terms, 5G will provide a high-performance, ultra-reliable, and future-proof network with virtually unlimited capacity and data speeds, capable of higher bandwidth and low latency, accommodating billions of devices and use cases across various industries.

Unfortunately, people have all manners of myths and misunderstandings about 5G since the networks operate on different frequencies with sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave (20-60 GHz) at the low and high ends of the spectrum.

In this post, we will expose all myths and conspiracies, which are dangerously gaining widespread credence around the globe. We will clue you into the reality behind these baseless theories. Let’s get started!

1. 5G is a hazard to health

This claim dates back to the 90s when critics claimed that the 2G airwaves could cause cancer. Today, everyone dismisses it. This idea of airwaves, damaging body cells, is based on the notion that ionizing radiation is powerful enough to knock the electrons out of the orbit of an atom.

But the point which seems to get lost is that non-ionizing radiation is not powerful enough to remove the electrons from the atoms. However, it has enough energy to move atoms in a molecule around and cause them to vibrate, making the atom heat up. Numerous public health authorities, including WHO and ICNIRP, have stated on numerous occasions that the airwaves used by mobile communications is not harmful to health.

2. 5G kills birds

This claim originated in 2018 when 297 birds were found dead near a 5G trial area in the Netherlands. Similarly, 225 birds were found dead in North Wales in 2019. Both incidents cemented the belief that 5G was harmful to birds and plant life. However, a study by the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam and Wageningen University found that the cause of death was a mid-air collision due to confusion in the flock.

Notably, these incidents occurred long before the introduction of 5G. In 1904, 750,000 migrating Lapland Longspurs, for instance, were found dead in Worthington, Minnesota. In January 2020, the residents of Beebe in the US state of Arkansas found 500 dead blackbirds across lawns and roads, despite not being a 5G antenna for hundreds of miles.

3. 5G kills trees and plants

Conspiracy theorists came up with this claim after an image of felled trees was shared on Facebook: “5G kills trees. That is why the trees are removed before 5G is launched.” BBC News’ Serbian service later covered the story, reporting that the felling of the trees as part of reconstruction works on the street. The workers were to replace the rotten linden trees with new maple trees.

4. 5G is the cause of COVID-19

A video of a US doctor named Dr. Thomas Cowan went viral in March when he claimed that 5G poisoned cells in the body, forcing them to excrete waste, which eventually became known as COVID-19. Cowan suggested the emergence of the Spanish Flu (1918) coincided with the launch of commercial radio services (1920). He also claimed the Wuhan is ground-zero for COVID-19 since it is the first city to have 5G. The video, which was reposted by several celebrities, has been disproven by several scientists and medical professionals.

5. 5G accelerates the coronavirus spread

This theory states that radiation from mobile communications is influencing the human body on a molecular level, preventing the body from fighting the virus. The Cornell Alliance for Science emphasized that there is no evidence linking 5G technology to the COVID-19 coronavirus. In suggesting that both the coronavirus and the 5G antenna are in places like Wuhan, London, and Paris, conspiracy theorists are correct but fail to include Iran or Ecuador in their arguments. These are countries that have fallen victim to the pandemic but do not have 5G connectivity. If a hotspot emerges in one area which happens to have 5G antenna, it is coincidental.

6. 5G can be weaponized

The idea comes from as 5G employs sub-millimeter and millimeter waves, similar to the Active Denial System, a prototype device from the US military used for crowd control. The system emits millimeter waves as a beam that penetrates the very top layer of skin and produces a deeply unpleasant heating sensation. However, it’s not enough to hurt or create lasting damage.

7. 5G is all about bandwidth and latency

5G networks can indeed deliver a peak bandwidth around 3X better than previous generation networks and latency up to 2X lower. The technology has much more to offer than merely enhancing network performance. 5 G is more than a mere access technology. It is a transformation tool that can solve various existing pain points across multiple industries and address completely new use cases and applications that are otherwise not possible with existing networks.

8. 5G will benefit only smartphones

The iPhone and Android phones virtually exploded during the 4G LTE era. 5G will, of course, enable faster and better smartphones. But it will also lead to mass-market consumer VR and AR devices, sensors, and applications for smart homes and cars, industrial robots, and billions of other Internet of Things (IoT) devices yet to be conceived.

9. Operators and vendors will be the 5G winners

Indeed, 4G LTE benefited only the mobile network operators (MNOs), network equipment manufacturers (NEMs), and smartphone manufacturers. But 5G will create opportunities across many industries, including car manufacturing, agriculture, health and medicine, AR/VR, media and entertainment, transportation and logistics, and many more, due to the technology’s ability to provide wider network coverage, more stable internet connections, and faster data transfer speeds.

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