by Margi Murphy, us technology reporter, san francisco, telegraph.co.uk, 9 March 2019
|5G networks are set to be rolled out later this year.|
Credit: Getty Images
ICNIRP, the global scientific body used to set standards on radio frequency emissions from smartphones, WiFi routers and phone masts, will vote on easing its guidelines next month.
The Munich-headquartered organisation, made up of a dozen scientists, believe the existing rules can be relaxed without any health risks.
Telecoms companies have been hoping the restrictions will be relaxed to allow them to set up next-generation mobile networks, which will require more powerful signals.
The World Health Organisation is currently studying whether radiation from mobile networks is harmful, in an attempt to settle disagreements among researchers about the signals allegedly increasing the risk of cancer.
Fierce opposition to phone towers in residential areas across the country has persisted for almost two decades, owing to concerns the radiation they emit might be harmful to public health.
Campaigners have stepped up opposition ahead of the new networks as the successor to 4G will need more masts to provide the necessary coverage, each operating at a higher frequency. The current limits were created in 1999. The government rules that any manufacturer must ensure masts, or phones, comply.
Around 25,000 masts or cell sites are needed to cover mainland UK on the current network. But when data rates rise with 5G, they will need to push more power into the radio signal and larger coverage, New masts may appear on bus stops, lamp posts and in homeowners’ TV set top boxes.
Mobile phone companies promise the new networks will contribute billions to the economy owing to their super fast speeds that can accelerate smart cities, homes and driverless cars. Matthew Fell, the UK policy chief at the Confederation for British Industry last month urged politicians to help “supercharge broadband and 5G to stop UK economy from buffering”, and stop it being overshadowed by Brexit.
Vodafone announced last week that it is launching 5G in 19 towns and cities across the UK this year. The US has similar trials taking place across the country, backed by Donald Trump who wrote on Twitter that he wanted the technology “as soon as possible”.