The question of 5G

Mobile phone operators promote 5G as the technology of the future, a fundamental step towards the era of the “Internet of things”.  However, 5G and its related infrastructure (mobile masts and relay antennae) is the subject of much controversy and debate, as outlined below.


It should be noted that in Switzerland, more than 80 local Councils have put in oppositions against the installation of mobile masts by mobile operators on their land.


For detailed information about 5G please refer to this website.


Radiation limits in Switzerland


In Switzerland, the limits for radiation from mobile phone masts are regulated by the ORNI (l’Ordonnance sur la protection contre le rayonnement non ionisant). However, the values recommended by the ORNI were agreed in December 1999 and have not been adapted since.


Current radiation standards:


In residential areas: 4-6 v/m (volts per metre)

Occupational areas: 28-61 v/m


Contrary to claims made by the mobile phone operators, emissions from electromagnetic radiation in Switzerland are not 10 times lower than in other parts of the world but there are additional limits in Switzerland linked to the installation of mobile masts (as opposed to actual radiation emissions).  The overall radiation emissions limit, therefore, is the same in Switzerland as it is elsewhere but the radiation limit for each mobile mast installation taken on an individual basis is a peculiarity to Switzerland.


In addition, the mobile phone operators have requested on several occasions that the radiation values set by the ORNI be increased whereas the Swiss Parliament (Conseil des Etats) refused in 2016 and 2018 to increase the radiation limits.


In parallel, the EUROPAEM (European Academy for Environmental Medicine) recommended in its 2016 general guidelines that there should be a maximum level for radio-frequency exposure of:

  • 0.2v/m during the day

  • 0.06 v/m at night

  • 0.02 v/m for sensitive subjects

Last but not least, the current ORNI standards are not adapted to 5G mobile masts and there is currently no Protocol whereby to measure electromagnetic radiation from 5G antennae.


Precautionary principle


The precautionary principle enables decision-makers to adopt precautionary measures when scientific evidence about an environmental or human health hazard is uncertain and the stakes are high.


The Committee that is responsible for 2-3-4 G recognized that the process that had been undertaken had no scientific basis (source: Observatoire de la 5G, RTS).


The official limits covered take into account industry requirements but do not take account of studies into health-related impacts.


The ORNI standards are only relevant in so far as they cover the thermal impacts on the heating of skin tissues. Bearing in mind that the medical review The Lancet is calling for non-thermal impacts to be taken into consideration.



How many mobile masts?


Mobile phone operators will have to install 15,000 new mobile masts across Switzerland (there are already around 20,000 for 4G and 3G). The 2G antennae will be dismantled in 2020.


Given that 5G uses higher frequency waves than 4G and earlier mobile networks, the range of radio waves transmitted from mobile masts is much shorter so the waves do not travel as far. High frequency waves also do not penetrate as deeply and can therefore be blocked by urban obstacles (buildings and trees). 5G networks require more transmitter masts than previous technologies. The solution, therefore, is to build even more antennae: large mobile masts (like the one planned in our village) as well as lots of small relay antennae (small cells).


You will recall that the principle of 5G is to use electromagnetic wave frequencies that are currently not used for 4G, i.e. the ultra high frequency waves.


>>> And what is the situation in Chavannes-des-Bois?

Where are the mobile masts in our village at present – and which mobile phone operators currently provide our mobile phone coverage? How many mobile phone operators have plans to build mobile masts in our village in the future and how many mobile masts and relay antennae will this involve?


No forward-planning and coordination is currently underway in Chavannes-des-Bois.


On the sly


The mobile phone operators have already paid 380 million Swiss Francs to the Federal Government for the purchase of 5G licenses. The auctioning of the bandwidth and bidding negotiations took place between 29 January and 7 February 2019 in the greatest of secrecy. In order to build their mobile networks nationally, the operators are pushing for the easing of regulations that they believe are too strict.


Once a 4G mobile mast is installed, the mobile phone operators do not need to put in an official building authorization for it to be transposed into a 5G mobile mast.