Switzerland pushes ahead with 5G network

Switzerland’s largest telecoms company Swisscom said Wednesday that its 5G mobile communications network was made available on the day, after competitor Sunrise launched its 5G service earlier this month, but still four cantons suspended authorizations for new 5G mobile antennae due to safety concerns.

Swisscom said the fast technology was made available across more than 100 locations in 54 cities and towns in the early hours of Wednesday. It had been given the right to use the new frequencies by the telecoms regulator for 15 years, and plans to cover 90 percent of the country with 5G by the end of the year.

The majority state-owned company said the networks were put in place in partnership with Swedish telecoms company Ericsson, and it named Chinese companies, Oppo and Huawei along with South Korea’s LG and Samsung among the brands it will ship.

Earlier this month, Swisscom competitor Sunrise launched its 5G service in 150 Swiss municipalities.

However, four Swiss cantons in western Switzerland, Vaud, Geneva, Neuchatel and Jura, had earlier moved to suspend authorizations for new 5G mobile antennae, pending a government report on their safety. A working group is to present the results of a study to the Swiss government by the end of June.

Fifth-generation wireless technology offers much faster data speeds for mobile communications than previous generations, up to ten gigabits per second, which is fast enough to download a high-definition movie in seconds, and up to 100 times faster than current 4G technology.

While some people say 5G is divisive in Switzerland and indispensable for economic development, others are afraid of the increased radiation coming from the antennas. The result is that antenna construction projects are running into petitions, political interference and opposition.

Swisscom had said that the frequencies are the same as what has been used for years and have been analyzed in thousands of studies, not one of which managed to prove scientifically that there’s a serious risk to health.

However, Swiss researchers have confirmed the potentially damaging impact of the frequent use of mobile phones among adolescents.

A study found that the so called figural memory performance — the ability to remember abstract forms — can deteriorate if the brain is often subjected to high frequency electromagnetic fields, according to the Tropical and Public Health Institute.