Cantons complain about lack of 5G clarity

Cantons complain that they may have to tear up existing permits for 5G antennae. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Swiss government delays in setting national 5G infrastructure regulations could lead to future chaos, an influential planning expert has told Swiss public television RTS.

This content was published on February 12, 2020

Last month, the government postponed publishing its recommendations to allow more time to conduct live simulation tests, particularly measuring the amount of radiation that antennae could produce.

In the meantime, operators have already been issued with permits and have begun installing infrastructure which they cannot yet use. A lack of national or international regulatory clarity to coordinate such installations is bound to lead to problems, warns Jean-François Steiert, vice-president of the Cantonal Conference of Building, Planning and Environment DirectorsExternal link.

“The deployment continues in an unclear legal context, which is never good for the development of a new technology,” he told RTSExternal link.

“We risk giving permits to places that will no longer meet the conditions thereafter, or vice versa. The rules of the game are likely to change.”

Steifert’s views are echoed by Heiko Loretan from canton Aargau’s environment department. Should the government issue unexpected guidelines following the tests: “We might then have to re-check all the previously issued permits,” he told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung newspaperExternal link.

“In future, new frequencies should only be auctioned when all the basic documents are actually available,” he added.

The NZZ article criticised the majority state-owned telecoms operator Swisscom for announcing that it has already installed a nationwide 5G infrastructure network. It has in fact re-fitted its existing antennae to work with 5G, which is legal but brings inferior results, the newspaper argues.

The confusion over 5G has persuaded some cantons to issue moratoriums on the erection of new antennae while opponents have demonstrated over health concerns and threatened to bring the issue to a national vote.

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