City of Brussels blocks 5G over radiation concerns

News

Plans to pilot 5G in Brussels have been blocked due to concerns over radiation levels, the regional government has confirmed.

The government is concerned that 5G technology can’t measure the radiation from 5G antennas.

With limits of 6 volts per metre (v/m), Brussels has among the strictest telecom radiation regulations in the world.

Last year, the Belgian Institute of Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT) recommended that Brussels increased the limits to enable the region to capitalise on 5G. Ministers approved an increase to 9v /m indoor and 14.5v /m outdoors.

Orange announced plans to roll 5G out in Brussels this year and launch commercial services next year.

Measuring MIMO

However, Céline Fremault, the Minister for Housing, Quality of Life, Environment and Energy in the Government of the Brussels Capital Region, is halting further activity due to concerns that massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) antennas aren’t technically able to measure the amount of radiation emitted and, therefore, staying within legal limits can’t be guaranteed.

Fremault noted that she recognises the benefits of 5G in areas such as mobility and even health (with respect to remote operations and rapid diagnostics, for example), but said the people of Brussels will not be “guinea pigs” and as long as radiation can’t be accurately measured, 5G plans for Brussels will remain on hold.

5G fact check

As 5G roll-outs begin in Switzerland, Swisscom was recently moved to publish a 5G ‘fact check’ in the face of growing “misinformation” and consumer concerns around issues such as high-frequency 5G radiation killing birds, the use of 5G by the military as a weapon, and 5G causing cancer.

Swisscom said its summary of the issues will be regularly updated.

Swisscom spokesman Christian Neuhaus told Swiss public television: “The frequencies are the same as what we’ve been using for years. They’ve been analysed in thousands of studies and not one has managed to prove scientifically that there’s a serious risk to health.”

Belgian challenges

Belgian operators face further challenges in rolling out 5G because the Belgian government has put the spectrum auction on hold until 2020 or later as ministers have been unable to reach consensus on how the proceeds from the auction should be allocated. The government expects to raise some €680 million from the auction