Digicel assures Fiji and Samoa residents that 5G is perfectly safe

Digicel assures Fiji and Samoa residents that 5G is perfectly safe

Digicel’s operators in Fiji and Samoa have followed up their announced plans to roll out 5G with safety assurances to customers in an apparent move to assuage worries over various Internet rumours and conspiracy theories about 5G health risks.

Earlier this month, Digicel Fiji and Digicel Samoa announced that they had both partnered with Nokia to upgrade their networks to 5G. This week, both telcos issued identical statements that aimed to address questions and concerns about the health and safety aspects of 5G technology.

“We are taking every measure to ensure a safe and seamless rollout of 5G technology,” the statement said.

Digicel said that “there is no scientific evidence linking telecommunications technologies, including 5G, to adverse health impacts,” which is consistent with the position of  global health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Digicel also noted that existing electromagnetic energy (EME) safety standards encompass 5G technology, and that 5G devices and networks in both Fiji and Samoa have undergone rigorous testing to ensure compliance with established local safety regulations.

“Due to advancements in network design and device power management, 5G technology emits lower levels of EME compared to previous generations like 2G, 3G and 4G,” Digicel said.

The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) issued guidelines for 5G electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation in 2020, which state that while 5G generally complies with its original 1998 EMF guidelines, 5G is still an evolving technology. Consequently, the 2020 guidelines are set well below minimum safety levels, and add a few changes, including “whole body average restrictions for frequencies above 6 GHz, restrictions for brief (less than 6 minutes) exposures for frequencies above 6 GHz, and the reduction of the averaging area for frequencies above 6 GHz.”

ICNIRP also acknowledges in its 2020 guidelines that the higher frequencies used for 5G don’t penetrate the human body as deeply as lower frequencies. The ICNIRP also noted that 5G’s use of beamforming can reduce overall exposure to EMF radiation in a given cell.

For several years now, the internet has been awash in misinformation and conspiracy theories regarding 5G health and safety risks. Various rumours claim without credible evidence that 5G kills birds, causes cancer, weakens immune systems and is the cause of COVID-19. Conspiracy theorists claim 5G is a weapons system that governments will use to monitor and control people.

“We encourage individuals to rely on credible sources and expert opinions when assessing information related to telecommunications and health,” Digicel said.

Digicel Fiji and Digicel Samoa have not yet given specific timelines for commercial 5G launch dates.

Digicel Samoa was granted conditional approval from the Government of Samoa earlier this month to launch 5G. Digicel Fiji has said it anticipates “imminent completion” of regulatory approvals by the Fiji Government. Its rival Vodafone Fiji received a 5G non-commercial license earlier this month to conduct live end-user trials on its 5G pilot network, with a full commercial license expected to be issued later this year.

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