This week in 5G: Safety questions, Huawei, and better home broadband

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Scientific American is raising health concerns around 5G, Chancellor Merkel is avoiding an outright Huawei ban, but wants stricter vendor standards, and Qualcomm is showcasing 5G home internet hardware.

How holding off on 5G can save money and help the environment
TechRepublic’s Karen Roby interviews a telecommunications equipment expert about the potential benefits of sticking with 4G—or even 3G—in areas that aren’t ready to move to 5G.

It’s been a wild week for 5G. The FCC approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, though little movement is expected there as lawsuits from state Attorneys General are still in motion, preventing the deal from closing for the foreseeable future. Elsewhere around the world, SK Telecom is planning to expand 5G roaming services to 20 countries by 2020, including the US, China, and Japan. SK Telecom already provides roaming in Switzerland, though as presently available 5G smartphones can’t switch between sub-6 GHz and mmWave networks, it’s more of a handshake-and-signature affair than something visitors to the US will be able to utilize immediately.

SEE: 5G smartphones: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

TechRepublic is rounding up the biggest news in 5G for the week—here are the three biggest stories for the next generation “network of networks.” 

More research needed into the safety of millimeter wave networks

Scientific American weighed in on the public safety of 5G, noting that “the preponderance of peer-reviewed research, more than 500 studies, have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to [radio frequency radiation] at intensities too low to cause significant heating,” and that research into millimeter wave “suggests that long-term exposure may pose health risks to the skin (e.g., melanoma), the eyes (e.g., ocular melanoma) and the testes (e.g., sterility).”

While a meta-analysis of studies into Wi-Fi safety published in April 2019 found no adverse health effects, the focus of that study is on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. That study also noted that Wi-Fi signals represented only 4% of total RF exposure, while 62% originated from signals from cellular base stations, 23% from broadcast TV and radio systems, and 11% from nearby cell phones. 

Meanwhile, Telstra chair John Mullen is comparing 5G health “truthers” to anti-vaccination and Flat Earth movement proponents.

Germany says it’s okay to embrace Huawei

The “security catalog” released by the Federal Office for Information Security and the Federal Network Agency in Germany permit the use of Huawei equipment for building 5G networks in the country, despite warnings and pressure from the US government. German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported a clause in the security catalog draft banning Huawei was removed following an intervention from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

Merkel is reported to be pushing for stricter standards for all vendors.

Qualcomm’s designs for wireless broadband via 5G + Wi-Fi 6

The Broadband World Forum is happening this week in Amsterdam. Qualcomm unveiled reference designs for 5G-delivered internet, with customer premise equipment (CPE) that  provide wired ethernet connections, or integration with external routers, as well as CPEs that act as a direct 5G to Wi-Fi 6 bridge, eliminating the need for additional hardware.

Qualcomm provides the chipset and base designs, which are customized by solutions vendors working with mobile network operators to suit the needs of the deployment scenario—outdoor CPEs require more ruggedization to withstand the elements, indoor requires less. For indoor CPEs, using a lightweight design that attaches to a window via suction cups could be a strategy used to maximize signal from the base station.

Check out more 5G coverage from TechRepublic and ZDNet:

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5G 5 generation network mobile symbol hologram

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