Health fears about radiation from the antennas with the new 5G have led to widespread protests in Switzerland.
A nationwide uprising has begun in the country about the next generation of mobile technology, despite the fact among the first countries to use 5G.
Protesters against the hardware will fill the streets of Bern later this month, but a number of cantons have already been pressured to put planned constructions of 5G-compatible antennas on ice.
The technology has been dragged into the deepening of the trade war between China and the United States, which has tried to contain the Chinese giant Huawei – the world leader in super-fast 5G equipment – because of the fear that it will be able to Beijing set messages to spy from countries that use its products and services.
But far from the clash between the titans, a growing number of Swiss alarms indicate potential health effects of exposure to the electromagnetic rays emanating from the new antennas, and threaten to refer the issue to a referendum in the country known for its direct democratic system.
Opponent of antennas for the 5G mobile network, the Swiss Olivier Pahud, with a sign with the text & # 39; 4G good enough & # 39; during a protest earlier this month in Geneva
It shouldn't have been that way.
In February, Switzerland took a big step towards deployment by allocating 5G frequencies to three major operators, Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt, bringing the country revenues of nearly 380 million Swiss francs ($ 384 million, 350 million euros) could achieve.
High on their success, the operators raced to trumpet on television advertising and billboards that advanced technology would be available this year in cities, in the countryside and even in mountainous regions.
At the beginning of July, 334 antenna stations for 5G were operational throughout the country, the authorities said.
But the rollout has encountered a number of serious obstacles.
Several cantons, including Geneva, have resisted the pressure from online submitters who wanted to stop the construction of the 5G infrastructure.
Although no new antennas are being built in parts of the country, the operators are still converting existing 4G antennas for 5G use – something they can do without permission.
National airline Swisscom says it expects 90 percent of the population to have 5G access by the end of the year.
A fast 5G mobile network antenna (above) near Montpreveyres, Western Switzerland. The country was one of the first countries to start using 5G
Opponents meanwhile warn that 5G poses unprecedented health and environmental risks compared to previous generations of mobile technology, and urges the authorities to set a full moratorium on rollout.
They will organize a major protest on September 21 for the government buildings in Bern, and are also working to put the issue to the vote.
& # 39; I think we have the most citizens by our side & # 39 ;, said Coco Tache-Berther from the Fequencia organization. Adding the rapid introduction of 5G in Switzerland was & # 39; ultra-shocking & # 39 ;.
Olivier Pahud, who regularly demonstrates against 5G for the UN in Geneva, agreed that the technology will have a & # 39; impact on health, on the environment, on people's thinking & # 39 ;.
And for people like him suffering from & # 39; electromagnetic hypersensitivity & # 39 ;, the new technology will be devastating, he said.
The condition is not recognized as a medical condition in most countries, but patients insist that exposure to cell phones, Wi-Fi routers, televisions and other gadgets cause everything from mild discomfort to life-threatening disability.
The powerful Swiss federation of doctors also urges caution and claims that & as long as there is no scientific evidence that increasing radiation limits will not affect health, one should refrain from increasing it. & # 39;
An antenna for the 5G mobile network service on an apartment building in Nyon, Switzerland. Anxiety about radiation from the antennas carrying the next generation of mobile technology has caused a nationwide uprising in the country
In Geneva, it is Daniel Buchs, a doctor and a regional parliamentarian with the centrist Christian Democratic party, who leads the fight.
& # 39; We are waiting for a serious, independent study that shows whether, yes or no, 5G has a harmful effect on the population, & # 39; he said.
Such a study, he stressed, could help prevent a health scandal similar to the one the world has seen with asbestos, which has long been promoted as safe, but which today is known to have at least 107,000 people worldwide each year kills.
Several studies are already underway, including one from the World Health Organization, which said it had begun conducting a & # 39; risk assessment of health outcomes from exposure to radio frequency fields & # 39 ;.
Last year, a group of experts was appointed by the Swiss government to investigate the risks associated with the introduction of 5G and their findings should be published by the end of the year.
That study was originally planned for publication in the first half of the year.
The delay, which the government said was related to & # 39; the scope of the task & # 39 ;, has aroused indignation among 5G opponents, who suspect that operator pressure may have played a role.
& # 39; You really have to ask yourself what's behind this, & # 39; said Tache-Berther.
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