Swiss 5G rollout slowed as opponents fight antenna plans

The Local
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Swiss 5G rollout slowed as opponents fight antenna plans
A 5G antenna in South Korea in April. Photo: AFP

The rollout of key 5G infrastructure in Switzerland has hit a roadblock in the form of tougher than expected opposition over the possible negative health effects of the technology.


Switzerland’s largest telecommunications provider, Swisscom, has previously promised its fifth generation wireless (5G network) would be up and running across most of the country by the end of the year while competitor Sunrise said it would provide 5G coverage “in all regions” come December.

But Swisscom and Sunrise say one in every three antennas planned antennas for the super high-speed wireless service is now the target of a complaint, Swiss weekly SonntagsZeitung reports.

Read also: Swisscom launches 5G in 102 Swiss locations

Meanwhile, a representative for Swiss telco Salt said it was looking at revising its own rollout plans with anticipated objections set to lead to higher costs and delays.

Moratoriums also causing hampering rollout

Also causing headaches for these firms are controversial moratoriums in cantons including Geneva and Vaud.

While federal authorities say cantons cannot do not have the power to impose such blanket moratoriums on 5G antennas, legal uncertainty is likely to further slow the launch of 5G, a Sunrise spokesperson told SonntagsZeitung.

Swisscom is still bullish, saying it will make 5G available to 90 percent of the population by the end of 2019. But the company is also coming up against hurdles.

The telco giant recently suspended its application to build a so-called adaptive antenna in canton Zug after residents complained.

Adaptive antennas do not emit a constant stream of radiation. Instead, rays are beamed to mobile phones when these are used. However, cantons are still unclear on how this radiation will be measured, and the affected commune in Zug wants guidelines from federal authorities before they give the green light to this type of antenna.

Health concerns grow

In most cases, the objections that have raised against Switzerland's new 5G antennas don’t stand a chance because there relate to location where antennas are already in place and the changes to that infrastructure are too minor to be subject to formal complaints.

But the fact those objections have been lodged shows there is plenty of concern in Switzerland about 5G.

A recent study by market research group Die Marktforscher showed 44 percent of people were concerned about the potential negative effects of 5G technology – up from 22 percent a year earlier.

Fake news?

The verdict is out on whether 5G poses a risk to human health.

More than 180 scientists from 36 countries recently submitted an open letter to the European Union calling for a moratorium on 5G coverage in Europe until further studies into the health risks have been undertaken.

But other experts say there is not enough evidence to link health risks to mobile communication masts. 


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