‘Why should we be the human guinea pigs for EE’s 5G trial in Shoreditch’ ask angry residents
- Credit: Dan Wong Photography
Shocked Shoreditch residents are horrified EE is holding the UK’s first ever trial of superfast 5G mobile internet outside their homes.
Concerned Tech City dwellers have questioned how the mobile network operator has obtained permission to “experiment on their health”.
Three months ago EE announced it would trial 5G in Shoreditch in October.
The “fifth generation” mobile internet will be switched on at 10 sites covering City Road, Old Street, Hoxton Square and Chiswell Street, upgrading its existing 4G network.
The aim is to “demonstrate the ability of 5G to provide the highest speed mobile data connections of up to one gigabit per second, even in the most densely populated urban environments”. Download speeds are expected to be 10 to 20 times faster than 4G.
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But some people are apparently now considering moving home because of the trial.
Some scientists have claimed 5G millimetre waves (mmWave) are harmful to human health, affecting the eyes, skin and testes, causing cancers and altering brain development.
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Living near phone masts can cause headaches, memory problems, dizziness, depression and sleep problems, it is alleged.
EE has stated the bandwidth it will be using is around 3.5GHz, much lower than the mmWave, which has caused most concern and is typically 28GHz or 39GHz.
The Gazette asked EE if any 5G safety trials had been completed, but EE said to get in touch with Ofcom. Ofcom meanwhile told the Gazette: “Assessing health impacts is not in our remit, so we do not have any further research on this.
“The UK Government has set out its vision for the UK to be a world leader in 5G, and Ofcom shares that vision.”
The potential dangers of 5G have prompted 230 doctors and scientists from 80 countries to call for a moratorium.
Liza Evers, who lives off Old Street, has questioned whether 5G could turn out to be the next big public health scandal, like air pollution or asbestos. She is angry that EE never notified her about the experiment.
“The effect of this radiation on public health is yet to undergo any rigorous scientific testing,” she said.
“The [American] Department of Defence uses this technology for crowd dispersal and disruption. It’s much stronger than 3G or 4G.”
Ms Evers and her neighbours are now distributing leaflets warning about the dangers of 5G technology.
“If you read what scientists say, why should a densely populated area be the guinea pigs for this? Why should any human being be the guinea pigs of this?” she said.
“It’s a completely different system and all over the world scientists are saying: ‘Don’t do this.’”
“Marc Allera, the CEO of EE has said he’s looking forward to the experiment, but he doesn’t live here. It’s shocking he’s not asked anyone. We obviously don’t factor in.”
She added: “The Day of the Triffids was filmed at Moorfields Eye Hospital. And now they are doing this crazy experiment here. How fast do we need it, in compromising our health?”
EE told the Gazette that it didn’t need to apply to anyone for permission, after buying up the band for £303million from communications service regulator Ofcom in an auction in April.
Hutchison 3G UK, Telefonica UK and Vodafone also bought up some of the spectrum.
“We bought the necessary spectrum for the trials earlier this year, and that includes licences to use it,” said a spokesperson, who would not disclose the exact locations of the masts.
“The placement of technology is decided by each individual operator,” she added. “The reach is one of the things we’ll be using the trials to determine.”
O2 is using the O2 centre in Greenwich as a “test bed” later this year.
First-generation analogue networks, which only carried voice, were introduced in the 1980s.
In the 1990s 2G phones brought about text and picture messages, then the turn of the millennium ushered in 3G and video calling and mobile data.
A decade later 4G networks and phones were designed to support mobile internet and higher speeds for video streaming and gaming.