5G is the next generation of wireless network technology. It can transfer larger amounts of data more quickly, with lower latency.
5G mobile data is transmitted over radio waves, which are a form of non-ionising radiation, meaning they do not carry enough energy to directly damage a person's DNA inside cells.
Is 5G safe?
Public Health England (PHE) advises the Government on any potential effects that electromagnetic fields (radio waves) may have on public health, and PHE's findings are summarised here:
"It is possible that there may be a small increase in overall exposure to radio waves when 5G is added to an existing network or in a new area. However, the overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and, as such, there should be no consequences for public health."
PHE is committed to monitoring the evidence and revising this advice as necessary.
You can read PHE's full guidance by following this link
Myths and conspiracy theories regarding the safety of 5G (many of which link 5G to the spread of Covid-19) have been spread online. In some cases this has lead to the destruction of 5G equipment and intimidation of telecoms workers.
There is no scientific basis or credible evidence for these claims, which have been rejected by the World Health Organisation and independent fact-checking charity Full Fact.
UK mobile network operators EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone have also issued a joint statement on the matter:
"Not only are these claims baseless, they are harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services. They have also led to the abuse of our engineers and, in some cases, prevented essential network maintenance taking place."
Ofcom have produced the following guidance which explains, in detail, why claims linking 5G to Covid-19 are false, and additionally, why our nation's telecoms infrastructure is vital to the ways we are all working to fight the spread of Covid-19 and save lives.
"If a mobile phone mast stops working, either because it has been vandalised or because engineers can’t repair and maintain the network, this undermines people's ability to call emergency services, dial the NHS on 111, or contact friends or family."
These myths and conspiracies are often spread through social media. Before you share, like, or comment on content linking 5G to Covid-19, and potentially spread false information further, run through the Share checklist to make sure that the information is legitimate.
5G is faster. It can transfer more data more quickly, with theoretical speeds up to 10Gbps and beyond. Youll be able to download a HD-quality feature film in seconds while on the move!
The greater capacity of 5G allows more devices within a given area to connect at the same time (up to 1,000,000 devices per square kilometre, to 4G's 100,000), with less interference. Plenty of space for everybody to connect at once!
Lower latency means that 5G provides a more responsive connection (latency is the delay between the instruction being given, and the transfer of data beginning). This means no more awkward pauses or speaking over each other during video calls, it'll be just like you're together in the same room!
While 5G is discussed as the latest method of providing mobile data for smartphones and similar devices, it has many other potential uses – such as in e-health (training and monitoring), smart manufacturing (remote control), and smart logistics (drone delivery).
Ofcom have produced a more detailed summary of 5G and its benefits