Government takes next step in 5G plans

Installing a 5G antenna in Bern. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

The environment ministry has finalised new guidelines for the regulation of maximum wave limits to be beamed from new, “adaptive” 5G antennae in Switzerland.

This content was published on February 23, 2021 - 17:50

On Tuesday, the environment ministry published the guidelines for cantons and local authorities concerning the antennae, which are designed to emit waves specifically in the direction of a mobile user, rather than in all directions.

The guidelines notably state that while the limit values for what’s deemed a “safe” frequency will not be lowered – a key plank of the government’s efforts to reassure people about 5G – the new antennae will nevertheless be evaluated differently.

Since the waves are targeted, they emit on average less than normal antennae, the ministry wroteExternal link. This means that “a correction factor can be applied to the authorised emission limit” which will avoid judging them like conventional masts.

This correction will allow the antennae to briefly overshoot the calculated limit – but the decisive factor will be judged by a six-minute weighted average. If this average is overtaken, an inbuilt limitation mechanism within the antenna will kick in.

According to Environment Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, the guidelines “guarantee the health of the population, while at the same time helping to advance the digitalisation process”.

5G technology, which is already being rolled out in Switzerland, has been the source of much skepticism and opposition in Switzerland over the past two years, with various groups worried about effects on health, privacy, and the environment.

In the face of public pressure, some Swiss cantons, notably in the French-speaking part of the country, have introduced moratoriums on the construction of new 5G antennae. Opponents have also launched citizen campaigns. Two people’s initiatives are currently in the works; they have until the middle of this year to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to force a public vote.

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