5G au crible

Published on 12 January 2021

5G: 5 myths examined more closely

As with any new technology, 5G has raised its fair share of questions and concerns. To understand more, we’ve examined five misconceptions surrounding this new generation of very high speed network. Here are our findings.


Myth #1: 5G accelerated the spread of Covid-19


Widely shared online, this conspiracy theory asserts that the Coronavirus can be transmitted via 5G radio waves. However, there is no proven link between the latter and Covid-19. The Coronavirus does not spread via radio waves or mobile networks: it is transmitted from person to person through contaminated respiratory droplets or direct contact. The World Health Organization (WHO) also clarifies that Covid-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have a 5G mobile network. 

Myth #2: 5G poses a health risk 

More recently, health authorities in several European countries including Germany, Finland and Norway, as well as the European Commission and national public agencies have has concluded that as they are below current thresholds, the new 5G frequencies do not pose a health risk.
In France, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES), which assesses the risks associated with 5G, issued a statement in April 2021, confirming the same conclusions.
Concerns have been raised about exposure to 5G radio waves; however, 4G technology differs little from 4G technology. What’s more, there are very strict standards governing antenna installation so as not to exceed the maximum exposure threshold (61V/m for frequencies about 2 GHz and 36V/m for 5G frequencies in the 700 MHz band) and to ensure there is no health risk from radio waves. In France, the exposure from operator networks is less than a few volts per metre. (Sources ANFR:Campagne de mesures 2019 and Rapport de simulation 4G/5G en zone dense). 


Myth #3: 5G is not essential

Faced with the exponential growth in connectivity demands, mobile data consumption is increasing by 40% each year. Deploying a new network that’s capable of absorbing more simultaneous mobile connections while proving to be more energy efficient than previous generations is necessary to avoid saturation in areas with high population density. As a gamechanger in business, 5G speeds up industrial processes and transforms business models in a whole range of sectors, from smart manufacturing to telemedicine and remote monitoring, real-time traffic control, connected cars and more. Orange is involved in a range of co-innovation programmes on future 5G needs and uses. 5G also enables economic development: according to a 2019 impact study, the global 5G value chain will generate $3.6 trillion in economic output and support 22.3 million jobs in 2035. Consumers will also benefit from new ways to learn, work, communicate, entertain themselves and manage everyday admin through more immersive experiences using virtual, augmented or mixed reality. 


Myth 4: 5G uses more energy than previous generations

Wrongly perceived as an energy-intensive technology with a high carbon footprint, 5G is actually the first mobile standard to integrate optimised energy consumption into its very design. How? 5G antennas work “on demand” and only transmit data when and where needed. 5G antennas already consume half the energy as their 4G counterparts per GB transported, and by 2025, widespread deployment will mean they consume 10 times less per GB transported, while accommodating more users and carrying 10 times more traffic. In the second stage of 5G deployments, we’re anticipating major developments in various sectors such as smart cities and IoT, accelerating the energy transition and improving resource management. 


Myth #5: 5G will herald an era of Big Brother

While it’s true that 5G hyperconnectivity may lead to new cyber risks, telecoms operators must continue to comply with two standards: confidentiality and GDPR. French regulator Arcep and the National Commission for Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), for example, are keeping a watchful eye on how personal data is managed and processed as part of an ongoing dialogue with operators.