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Five Things Learnt at UK5G’s Lifting the Lid on 5G Safety Event

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As the new PR and comms agency for 5G Wales Unlocked, Equinox was delighted to be invited to attend the virtual workshop – aimed at local authorities and companies in Wales – to hear about everything from potential uses to how to respond to 5G safety concerns.

1.    UK5G has a lot more to offer than just information

UK5G is the national innovation network dedicated to the promotion of research, collaboration and the industrial application of 5G in the UK.

With a website packed with information and fortnightly newsletters for nearly 5,000 registered users, UK5G is helping everyone from SMEs to local government and universities to discover the potential of 5G technology.

On December 8, UK5G also launched a new hub for Placemakers, a practical and pragmatic guide to deploying 5G in your area or region. For more information visit uk5g.org/discover/places and select your region or country.

2.    5G is actually pretty fascinating…

5G is the new standard for mobile communications – but it is more than just a faster version of 4G.

5G will be 10-20 times faster and support billions of digital devices with much greater reliability and security. It’s also the first telecommunication network which is designed to serve businesses as well as consumers.

The following bandwidths will help reach different communities across Wales:

  • 700 MHz – low frequency cells

Previously used for digital TV, this bandwidth has the potential to bring fast speed connections to remote and rural areas as it can reach further with low latency.

  • 3.4-3.8 MHz – mid frequency cells

This wide bandwidth is currently being used to deliver high speed connection and 5G in cities.

  • 2 GHz – millimetre wave cells

This very wide bandwidth can deliver extremely high speeds to large numbers of users at shorter distances. While the technology is still new, likely applications include small cells on lampposts near train stations and stadiums and industrial spaces such as ports and automation centres.

Diagram showing different frequencies used for 5G. Image credit: Ofcom

3.    …and it has some exciting potential uses

5G provides the platform for the Internet of Things – everything from connecting self-driving cars to a ‘doctor on a wrist’ wearable tech.

We heard from Reuben Braddock at Ofcom about how the age of 5G will see devices being embedded into cars, drones, machines, roads and pavements. The reliable, real-time data they send will support the creation of smart cities, smart factories and smart agriculture, which in turn has the power to fight climate change by reducing emissions and waste.

5G will support the creation of smart cities, which in turn has the power to fight climate change by reducing emissions and waste.

Crucially for Wales, 5G also has the potential to deliver cost-effective broadband to rural homes. With a fast and reliable connection, 5G could also support rural businesses and enable remote working, bringing people out of the cities and reducing congestion and pollution.

4.    5G is a powerful tool in tackling issues faced by rural and Valleys communities

The event wasn’t just a list of cool sci-fi possibilities – the speakers also showcased what this technology could mean for rural and Valleys communities in Wales.

Adam Greenwood, Rural District Project Officer for Monmouthshire County Council – one of the partners in 5G Wales Unlocked – shared some fascinating updates about two projects running in the county, Cadw site Raglan Castle and a 5G test farm.

“Like every successful tourist attraction, Raglan Castle needs to evolve to encourage people to visit and re-visit,” said Adam. “We’re working with SME Jam Creative to develop AR visitor experiences at Raglan Castle to increase demand and bring the history of the site to life.

“We’re also working with another SME, Utterberry, who have developed and installed a system of 5G-enabled sensors in the walls and ground to monitor and protect the building of Raglan Castle. This system is saving costs and helping Cadw to better understand the site and potential damage to the site.

The second case study in Monmouthshire is a farm which has been kitted out with security sensors to improve safety, prevent theft and assist in lambing monitoring.

What’s really exciting is that frontline staff are seeing the potential of 5G and making suggestions on how to use it to improve services.

“The farmer is very enthusiastic about the tech and how it has improved the running of the farm,” said Adam. “He’s always coming up with new uses for the sensors.”

Ste Ashton from Worcestershire County Council is working on similar issues in Mercia and West Worcestershire.

“The health and social care sector is a great opportunity for 5G tech to help improve services and reduce waiting times,” explained Ste.

“We tested a virtual GP round with the GP using a headset in her office and the care worker using a tablet in a care home. It’s essentially a video call except the speed of 5G means the video quality is a lot better.

“We weren’t expecting much but on that first test the GP saw a full round of patients. The call helped head off more serious health issues and it showed that it is possible to make healthcare decisions this way when needed.

5.    How to respond to concerns about 5G safety

From concerns around human health to 5G’s environmental impact and aesthetics, some people are raising concerns around 5G technology and its place in Wales.

At the event, Dr Azadeh Peyman from the UK Health Security Agency explained that radio waves act at a frequency which is not powerful enough to damage the ions in our cells (non-ionising radiation) and summarised the ICNIRP guidelines on safe exposure to the radio waves used in 5G.

She also spoke about the importance of looking at the totality of the scientific evidence and how they check studies for quality.

UK5G’s dedicated Safety Hub has many resources to help respond to queries, including educational resources such as Ofcom’s recent EMF emission measuring research, and a guide to telecoms masts.

For a 5G safety messaging document, FAQ guide and other resources, please email [email protected]