The fifth generation of wireless technology is a controversial invention. The adoption of the new 5G technology promises a transformation in communication networks with a burst in speed and transmission capacity. 5G networks use a system of small cells that are divided into sectors to send encoded data through extensive radio waves. Although technological developments are often welcome, some individuals have disputed this particular kind of origination. The new technology is barely developed, and it functions between 20-30 times faster than 4G. However, the decision to implement 5G has raised arguable concerns in terms of health and environmental risks associated.
Technicians ought to use 5G technology because of its practicality and speed. 5G is promising its users a download speed of up to 1GB per second. This technology fulfils some prerequisites of deontological philosophy. Technicians, who create new methodologies and devices, aim to improve the practicality of the equipment. In this regard, technicians have succeeded in improving wireless tools through the 5G networks; hence, their actions are in line with deontological philosophy (Mandal, Ponnambath, and Parija 5). To extrapolate, the philosophy of deontology states that an action is morally acceptable if it fulfils duties; therefore, it justifies the usage and implementation of the 5G network. Baron (16) explains that Kantian philosophers agree with anything that fulfils duty; in this regard, they would support the 5G network. Furthermore, the 5G network is a fulfilment of the technology industry’s duty to alleviate hardship and inconvenience for people, as it is fast and more practical compared to its predecessor.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), stated that the 5G network is 20 to 30 times faster than 4G. It is predicted that 5G will be the base for autonomous vehicles, due to higher upload and download speeds. These high upload speeds will also benefit health services such as remote surgeries and physical therapy via AR. According to the philosophy of care, an action is acceptable if it demonstrates that the doer cares about the recipient and practices benevolence. Furthermore, the philosophy of care justifies the use of 5G internet, as it will improve health services and the state of the economy. To demonstrate, technology enables communication between multiple people at the same time; hence, it would facilitate globalization. At the same time, globalization improves economies by providing employment opportunities.
Reaching faster speeds will require new antennas technology that will produce high frequency radio waves. However, these frequencies have not been proved to do any harm to humans. In fact, radio waves sit at the low energy part of the electromagnetic spectrum. These are classified as non-ionising radiofrequencies, meaning radiation produced cannot ionise atoms to produce any damage to human cells. Therefore, waves of this kind cannot cause cancer. This can be related to the virtue ethics, which dispute the technology because of its adverse effects on users. Annas (35) argues that virtue ethics focuses on the nature of the action. In this case, the 5G network proponents seem selfish to demand its release into the market despite the adverse effects. Concisely, virtue ethics indicates that an action is acceptable if the doer possesses virtues; hence, it focuses on the nature of an individual rather than their action.
Yes, 5G networks will have many benefits like higher download speed and improved autonomous vehicles. However, the question is, do we need that? Or is it just a marketing benefit so carriers can increase network prices? For the first time, 5G will employ extremely high electromagnetic frequency (EMF), millimetre waves which lie between 30 to 300 gigahertz (GHz), around 10 to 100 times higher than 4G. Although this radiofrequency radiation is classified as non-ionising, current scientific evidence shows that both short and long-term exposure periods will raise health risks. Where short-term exposure can damage human tissues by raising body temperature, also, it has been shown by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) that long-term exposure to certain EMFs is proved to cause a significant increase in heart, brain tumours and certain cancer diseases. This means the overall risk will increase substantially as 5G will accompany 2G,3G and 4G wavelengths, thereby exposing the human body to simultaneous multiple EMF radiations. This is morally unacceptable from the common good consequentialist view. Common good consequentialists focus on the overall harm of practice on humanity. Thus, a technology that benefits certain individuals at the expense of the common good is morally unacceptable.
Due to high EMF characteristics, millimetre waves would not be able to travel vast distances like 4G. Hence, in order to achieve an integrated wireless system, 5G signals will be sent from “small cell” antennas that transmit microwaves and millimetre waves; a technology developed for military purposes. These antennas are proposed to be installed every 100-200m, thereby bombarding our body cells with massive radiation 24 hours a day. Installing a harmful device near homes is against Kant’s theory. Kant’s theory would suggest that benefitting from any action must be made if other people’s autonomy is not violated. Autonomy will be violated in this case, as people would not be able to oppose when an antenna is installed close to their home.
In terms of 5G environmental impact, there are two critical points to be considered. The first one will be the amount of power consumption for the new 5G antennas. According to IEEE Spectrum, 5G towers will consume three times the energy compared to the current LTE networks. Global warming is currently at its peak, governments and organisations are working to reduce CO2 emissions; consuming more power will not help. This is an explicit violation to act utilitarianism which states “In any given situation, the person should choose the action that produces the greatest good for the greatest number’’. Sure, implementing 5G in the UK will benefit thousands of people, but the amount of CO2 emissions will harm the whole world. The other point is related to the main issue with 5G networks, which is the high EMFs emitted from the transmitter’s towers. In a study carried out by Nature, detailing the effects of radio frequencies on various insects; it has been found that higher frequencies, especially those in the mm spectrum, will interrupt the communication system between these species as insects rely on high frequencies to find food and to communicate.
We are FOR Implementing 5G technology