Telecom Operators

Radiation concerns temporarily halt 5G activity in Brussels

5G plans in Brussels have been put on hold until radiation levels as a consequence of the new technology are measured accurately.

Brussels has the strictest telecom radiation regulations globally. The Belgian government is concerned that 5G technology is unable to measure radiation from 5G antennas.

The Belgian Institute of Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) recommended last year that the country should loosen their grip on the limits they have set in order to allow the region to capitalize on 5G technology. As a result, ministers approved of this and increased the indoor limit to 9 volts per meter (v/m) and the outdoor limit to 14.5 v/m.

Orange has unveiled its plan to rollout 5G in Brussels this year and to make it commercial by next year.

The Minister for Housing, Quality of Life, Environment and Energy in the Government of the Brussels Capital Region, Celine Fremault, has decided to halt any further activity with regards to 5G deployment. Fremault is worried that the MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) antennas needed for 5G technology are unable to accurately measure the level of radiation emitted which would mean that there is a risk of the technology not being within legal limits.

She said that while she recognizes the benefits that come with 5G technology, “The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit. We cannot leave anything to doubt.”

She added, “I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen, are not respected, 5G or not.”

Additionally, Belgian operators are currently facing more challenges pertaining to the 5G rollout as the government has decided to delay the spectrum auction. It has been speculated that while it has been postponed to 2020, it may be postponed even further as ministers have not been able to reach an agreement on 5G licenses and how they should proceed with the auction.

Switzerland on the other hand, has begun its 5G rollout. Swisscom recently published a ‘fact check’ on 5G technology in order to avoid “misinformation”.

Christian Neuhaus, a Swisscom spokesman commented on the issue by stating that, “The frequencies are the same as what we’ve been using for years. They’ve been analyzed in thousands of studies and not one has managed to prove scientifically that there’s a serious risk to health.”