The Eswatini Communications Commission notes the extent of information
particularly on the internet and Social Media, pointing to the fifth generation
(5G) technology for mobile telecommunications as being one of the causes, and also
aiding the spread of COVID-19. As the Regulatory Authority responsible for
electronic communications services in the country, the Commission is obligated to
provide accurate information to the public on ICT developments.
In this regard, the Commission has found it proper to provide expert
information on 5G technology and how it is neither the cause nor an enabler to
the spread of COVID-19.
Wireless communications technologies, which are widely used for many
applications globally and in Eswatini, have been developing for years and have
undergone different stages of development, where and each stage has presented a
better and improved service experience for network users. This development in
technologies has been primarily driven by changing user demands and
expectations, digitisation and increased online presence of most of societal,
business and industrial activities. To meet some of these requirements and
expectations, high-throughput, low latency and massive capacity networks are required.
Over the last few years, sector players (standards development bodies,
equipment vendors, member states organizations), have been working on the
development of the latest generation of mobile communications technologies, 5G,
also known as IMT-2020. This fifth generation of mobile communications
technologies is meant to deliver multi-gigabit speeds, ultra-low-latency and
sufficient capacity to consumers and network users.
5G AND MOBILE TECHNOLOGIES
Mobile Network Technologies have evolved over the years, roughly
every other decade. 5G is the fifth generation and latest of mobile network
technology, first widely deployed in 2019. Compared to previous generation of
network technologies (1G, 2G, 3G and 4G), it is expected to increase
performance but can also expand into new service areas such as mission-critical
communications and connecting massive Internet of Things (IoT) structures. 5G
will largely impact industry, making safer transportation, strengthening
e-Health, precision agriculture, digitized logistics amongst many others.
HOW DANGEROUS IS RADIO
At the root of all concerns about wireless cell phone networks and
technologies including 5G, is the effects of electromagnetic field radiation
(EMF) or radiofrequency radiation (RFR) on the health of human beings. RFR is
anything emitted in the electromagnetic spectrum, from microwaves to x-rays to
radio waves to light from your monitor or light from the sun. The
electromagnetic radiation from mobile network base stations and handsets is
called non-ionising radiation (NIR), meaning it does not have enough
energy density to break chemical bonds and cause damage to cells.
Science has, however, established that radio waves have a thermal
(heating) effect on human tissue hence the need to set exposure limits. Furthermore,
the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) was
established and its function is to investigate the hazards that may be
associated with the different forms of Non-Ionizing Radiation (NIR), develop
international guidelines on NIR exposure limits, and deal with all aspects of
NIR protection. Following a seven-year study, the ICNIP has recently published
revised guidelines on the NIR exposure limits which accommodate the newly
developed technologies and they have stated that “5G technologies will not be able to cause harm when these new
guidelines are adhered to”.
Within the country, the Commission has also studied the RFR from all
the mobile networks operators, which have currently deployed up to 4G, in
accordance with the ICNIRP guidelines and determined that the radiation from
the different sites is well within the limits set in the guidelines. To date,
no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless
technologies. Provided that the overall exposure remains below international
guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.
5G, and its predecessor technologies, uses radio waves that are
non-ionised and can therefore not cause any failure of the human immune system.
Radiation from the sun is far greater than the radiation from a cell tower.
It is a common knowledge that due to the lower power of 5G
transmitters, there will be more of them installed in order to ensure
availability and access. The lower power means that the effective
electromagnetic radiation from the sites will be reduced thus reducing the
radiation effects of each individual base station.
5G DEPLOYMENTS IN
The country currently does not have any 5G network deployments by
mobile network operators. However, the Commission has received interest from
operators to conduct 5G trials. The Commission has welcomed these interests and
is already engaged in technical and regulatory discussions.
Accordingly, Eswatini Communications Commission would like to assure
Emaswati that there is no scientific link between the deployment of 5G
technology and Covid-19 or its spread. There is also no clinical evidence to
support this theory. Covid-19 is actually spreading in many countries that do
not have 5G mobile networks.
Furthermore, only standardized network
equipment will be allowed for deployment in Eswatini. All network deployments
in Eswatini are done in accordance with International Telecommunications Union
The introduction of 5G is bringing more benefits for Africa and the
developing world. Eswatini is poised to benefit through the deployment of wireless
technology for communications which operates on radio frequencies. This is an
opportunity for the country to experience better access to electronic communications
services with high speeds as the world evolves to rely on connectivity for
The Commission would like to encourage all Emaswati to stay
connected and utilise digital platforms whilst working and studying from home.
For more information, do contact the Commission on firstname.lastname@example.org