France to increase safety tests on 5G waves

The aim is to reassure the public and local officials before technology is rolled out across country.

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The government announced plans on Monday (October 12) to double testing on the possible effects of being exposed to 5G waves, before the technology is rolled out throughout France.

Fears around 5G are numerous and include specific worries about the health risks of being exposed to the strong electromagnetic waves that 5G technology relies on. General suspicions over 5G technology in France have also lead to antennas being vandalised by people who are against the new technology.

Scientists in France have debunked 5G health concerns, but government agency l’Agence nationale des Fréquences (AFNR) will now increase tests on mobile phones and antennas to reassure the public and local officials that 5G technology is safe.

5G Smartphone tests

Smartphone tests will measure the DAS rate (débit d'absorption spécifique known as SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate in English) to understand how much energy the human body absorbs while using products that can connect to 5G networks such as smartphones, tablets and connected watches.

Tests will be run by AFNR in a laboratory, using smartphones that are currently available on the French market.

In 2019, 70 types of smartphones were tested and in 2021 this number will rise to 140. This means 80% of popular smartphone models sold in France should be tested by the AFNR in 2021.

Results will be made public.

5G tests on antennas

5G antennas are already subject to strict testing by AFNR – in 2019 more than 3,000 were tested. These tests revealed average exposure almost 150 times lower than maximum safety level thresholds defined by French and European standards.

Cédric O, junior minister for the digital economy, said in a press release that tests on antennas will also increase. He said: “In the context of launching 5G, ANFR will undertake 4,800 specific tests to measure the strength of emissions from antennas before and after 5G is deployed.”

Mr O confirmed that local officials would have full access to the results of these tests.

Access to 4G technology also being improved

Mr O’s office also issued a reminder that, rather than focusing solely on 5G, its top priorities are “improving 4G mobile coverage and accelerating the deployment of new fibre optic networks in order to guarantee quality fixed and mobile internet access to all”.

To this end, 2,000 new pylons will be installed in France in the next few years to reduce the number of zones blanches (dead zones) in which people cannot access the internet.

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