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What is 5G?

5G stands for 5th Generation technology and is the latest technological development of cellular-based wireless communication that helps keeps the world connected.  5G should not be confused with 5 GigaHertz (5,000,000,000 Hertz), which is a measurement used for the frequency of electromagnetic waves.

5G technology is expected to deliver faster and better mobile broadband, and to enable more revolutionary uses in sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, and healthcare. This may create benefits for people and businesses and expand the role of wireless connectivity within the economy and society.

 

Like earlier generations of mobile technologies, including 3G and 4G, 5G uses radiofrequencies within the Radio Spectrum, which supports all wireless electronic communications services we use every day, such as making mobile phone calls, listening to the radio, or using Wi-Fi.

 

5G is the evolution of previous generations of mobile technology such as 3G, which led to the launch of smartphones and 4G, which enabled faster browsing and allowed users to do things like watch videos at high data transmission speeds while being mobile.

 

5G is much faster than previous generations of technology. It provides quicker response times and greater capacity, allowing thousands of devices in a small area to be connected at the same time.  5G connectivity is also more reliable and offers lower latency, which is the time between instructing a wireless device to perform an action and that action being completed.  For these reasons, 5G is expected to provide enhanced user experiences for consumers and businesses.

The RA’s Role in 5G

The RA is mandated to 1) promote and preserve competition; 2) promote the development of the Bermudian economy; 3) promote innovation.

 

In compliance with the Electronic Communicatons Act, 2011, and other guiding legislation, the RA promotes sustainable competition in the Electronic Communications sector for services such as fixed and mobile telephone services; long distance; internet access; leased data circuits and subscription tv.

 

The deployment of 5G in Bermuda will aim to help stimulate the economy through technological advancements and innovation that support consumers transactions and promote local businesses, international business, and tourism.

5G Health & Safety Standards

The RA’s Board of Commissioners (the “BOC”) recognises that people are often exposed to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields (“RF-EMF”) through technologies like existing 3G and 4G wireless networks, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other sources.  While some people are concerned about existing exposure to RF-EMF, others are concerned that the introduction of 5G might lead to adverse health effects.  It is crucial to consider the scientific literature pertaining to RF-EMF exposure and health when considering this matter. As such, the RA has adopted the following the “Appropriate Safety Standards” for Bermuda as detailed in the Regulatory Authority (Removal of Moratorium; Exposure to 5G Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields) Final Decision and Order:

 

“Appropriate Safety Standards” for Bermuda refers to the safety standards with regarding human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (“RF-EMF”) published by either –

  1. the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (“IEEE”), or
  2. the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (“ICNIRP”).

 

These two international Standards provide guidance on human protection from electromagnetic fields associated with radiofrequencies. Both standards are based on scientific evidence and aim at protecting against all known adverse effects that have been demonstrated by science. These advisory documents have been adopted by most nations and are recognized by the World Health Organization (“WHO”).

 

Although there are differences between how these two organisations function, in terms of safety, relevant to 5G technologies, exposure restrictions are essentially the same. Importantly, both provide protection against all known adverse health effects of RF-EMF. Below is a brief description of the structure and development history of the two standards:

  1. IEEE-C95 OR IEEE INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE ON ELECTROMAGNETIC SAFETY (ICES)
    The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) C-95 standard was first created in 1960. It aims to have standards for safety levels with respect to Human Exposure to Radio Frequency electromagnetic fields (3 kHz- 300 GHz).The IEEE C-95 committee currently consists of 132 members, with 42% from outside of the US. 27% are from Academia, 17% from Industry, 34% from Government, 20% are consultants, and 2% are from the public. The 2005 IEEE C95-version was approved by 91.3 % of voting members. The IEEE C95 Standard was updated and published in 2019, following review of all relevant literature, including those relating to adverse health effects, and both thermal and non-thermal effects.
  2. INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON NON-IONIZING RADIATION PROTECTION (ICNIRP)
    ICNIRP is a not-for-profit organization and is entirely independent from industry. Originally a committee within the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), it was chartered in 1992 as an independent commission to continue the committee’s work. The goal of ICNIRP is to protect people and the environment against adverse effects of non-ionizing radiation (NIR), which includes the radiation relevant to 5G technologies, through the development and dissemination of science-based advice on limiting exposure to non-ionizing radiation. Experts from different countries and disciplines such as biology, epidemiology, medicine, physics, and chemistry, work together within ICNIRP and with external experts to assess the risk of NIR exposure and provide exposure guidance. The guidelines relevant to 5G technologies were most recently updated in May 2020.

SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS OF INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS BODIES

IEEE and ICNIRP both provide equivalent restriction values to protect against adverse health effects and protect against exposures from instantaneous to ongoing (24/7), from localized to whole-body exposures, and for all people (ranging from babies and pregnant women to the elderly, and from the healthy to the infirm). Adverse health effects have not been verified for RF exposures that comply with these restriction values.

5G Safety Requirements in Bermuda

In view of the public concerns expressed about the levels of RF-EMF exposure and compliance with regulatory standards, where any RF installations are proposed, the RA will establish a comprehensive Exposure Verification Program inclusive of a Pre- and Post-Commissioning Exposure Verification process.  Elements of this program include:

 

  1. Pre-Commissioning Exposure Verification: If an electronic communications sectoral provider wishes to commission a new wireless base station network or make any changes to the RF power output of any existing site base station antenna, they must first perform a comprehensive analysis for each base station to provide an objective estimate of the maximum levels of electromagnetic radiation from the wireless base station or Small Cell. This information must be submitted to the RA for review/approval prior to commissioning a new base station or altering an existing base station. This process will ensure that Radio Access Points will only be deployed and operated in such a manner such that RF-EMF exposure complies with levels set in the Appropriate Safety Standards;
  2. PostCommissioning Exposure Verification: The RA may require the performance of regular or periodic surveys of a specific site to measure RF-EMF levels. If a wireless base station is determined to be directly exceeding or causing the net RF-EMF exposure to exceed the Appropriate Safety Standards, the Sectoral Provider will immediately remedy the exceedance.
  3. The RA will also conduct an annual assessment designed to measure the RF-EMF emissions around Bermuda to ensure the Appropriate Safety Standards are maintained. The first of these assessments was completed in March 2021 and is included as Appendix D in the Regulatory Authority (Removal of Moratorium; Exposure to 5G Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields) Final Decision and Order report published in May 2021.
  4. The RA will monitor the International Standards and guidelines with for any changes that may impact Bermuda’s Appropriate Safety Standards, and where necessary, the RA will advise the Sectoral Providers of any such change.

Measurements of EMF in Bermuda


In March 2021, the RA conducted a survey of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) throughout Bermuda and the measurements of exposure to the public. This report is contained as Appendix D in the Regulatory Authority (Removal of Moratorium; Exposure to 5G Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields) Final Decision and Order published in May 2021.The survey results indicate that RF-EMF measurements taken at 34 locations across Bermuda were a fraction of the maximum levels for safe RF-EMF exposure according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) Guidelines for Evaluating the Environmental Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation.  Note: The maximum value of RF-EMF radiation reported at any location in Bermuda was less than 3% of the FCC standards.

 

Furthermore, Bermuda’s current cumulative RF-EMF emissions are at least 20 times below the two additional major international exposure guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (“ICNIRP”) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (“IEEE”), whose standards were updated in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

3G, 4G & 5G – What are the Differences?

While the RF-EMF levels of radiation emitted from 5G antennas are similar those of previous generations of mobile technologies, 5G will use a wider range of frequencies, of RF than 3G and 4G. The use of higher frequencies in 5G networks is accounted for in the international standards, which specify RF-EMF restriction levels as a function of frequency.

 

5G is designed to be compliant with the international standards, and measurement studies to date, from jurisdictions that have already commissioned 5G networks, show that RF-EMF exposure from 5G is similar to the exposure from 3G and 4G.  Provided that RF-EMF radiation exposure from 5G from any wireless network in Bermuda does not exceed the Appropriate Safety Standards as required by the Regulatory Authority, (Removal of Moratorium; Exposure to 5G Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields) General Determination 2021, 5G will not cause harm to people.

Benefits of 5G

People are becoming more reliant on accessing broadband services where we live, work or travel.  The amount of mobile data we use continues to increase, especially due to remote working, online learning, entertainment and e-commerce platforms that are used for contactless retail sales and deliveries.

 

5G is a more responsive technology, due to the lower latency, which is the time between instructing a wireless device to perform an action and that action being completed.  These improvements over older generations of technology help to improve medical services, online learning, and support environmentally friendly advancements in the energy sector.

 

Expected benefits of current 5G technology include:

  • Lower latency, higher channel capacity, and larger data rates. The low latency times of 5G will play an important role, especially for time-critical applications such as autonomous driving and connected health services. The connectivity offered by 5G also allows existing applications to be carried out more quickly and dependably.
  • Medical technologies will be able to monitor patients in real time and notify medical practitioners and first responders as soon as a medical device detects a critical issue. As traditional manufacturing machines become ‘smart’ through the addition of sensors, 5G will provide the backbone to enables data communication between these machines and remote analytic systems.
  • In educational settings, 5G will provide increased accessibility for remote learning, and the faster data rates and lower latencies can be used to offer the most effective learning experience for a wide range of students.
  • In the energy sector, distributed energy generation systems such as solar panels and wind turbines continue to grow in use. With the high levels of rapid and reliable connectivity offered by 5G, the energy grid can be balanced to match power supply and demand.   Similar to previous generations of mobile telecommunications, e.g., 4G, 5G utilizes radiofrequency spectrum as a means of sending and receiving information, such as from one mobile phone to another.

Source: 5G Market Snapshot: April 2021 – Executive Summary (Global Mobile Suppliers Association) https://gsacom.com/technology/5g/

Business Benefits of 5G

Here are five examples of how businesses can use 5G to improve how they do business and serve customers:

  • Improve productivity of employees;
  • Make sales channels more productive;
  • Enhance customer experiences;
  • Increase connectivity;
  • Create new business opportunities.

International Roll-Out of 5G

Consistent with the view that 5G will provide substantive benefit to society without adversely affecting health, 5G is being widely implemented across the globe.  According to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association’s Market Snapshot  from April 2021, global statistics on 5G include:

  • 162 commercial 5G networks have been launched worldwide.
  • 435 operators in 133 countries/territories were investing in 5G, including trials, acquisition of licences, planning, network deployment and launches. (This number excludes nearly 200 additional companies awarded spectrum in the US CBRS PAL auction, all of which could be used for 5G).
  • Of those, a total of 162 operators in 68 countries/territories had launched one or more 3GPP-compliant 5G services. 153 operators in 64 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G mobile services. 54 operators in 30 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) or home broadband services.
  • 5 operators had announced limited availability or soft launches no longer counted in the above launch figures.
  • 8 operators had launched commercial public 5G stand alone (SA) networks (plus one possible launch to be confirmed). 36 others are planning/deploying 5G SA for public networks.
  • 431 5G devices were available commercially with plans for an additional 703 5G devices having been announced, including 351 phones.

Source: 5G Market Snapshot: April 2021 – Executive Summary (Global Mobile Suppliers Association) (https://gsacom.com/technology/5g/)

Uses of 5G

In addition to its use for mobile phones, 5G is already being used and tested across several sectors, benefiting people and businesses around the globe.

For example, in the UK, 5G nodes are installed on lamp posts to create a network aimed at helping social care patients. So far, it has helped to keep patients and their families connected via virtual reality, as well as enabling bio-monitors to detect whether patients are dehydrated. It is also being used to connect video systems that allow pharmacists to remotely check whether patients are taking their medication.

5G is also being used in farming – with one example being autonomous farming machinery. Machines scour the field using a video sensor and apply fertilizers and pesticides where they are needed. This helps to save resources and boost efficiency.

5G can also enable manufacturers to use smart machinery, providing and reacting to real-time data to improve efficiency.

Transport networks, local authorities and other public bodies could use it to improve public services like parking, traffic management and street lighting.

Enabling 5G in Bermuda

With strict adherence to the appropriate approvals and safety standards, 5G technology will be introduced in the Bermuda marketplace through licenced Electronic Communications providers in Bermuda across wireless networks over the coming years.

 

The long-term use of 5G is expected to provide more innovative uses of the technology to benefit a variety of sectors such as healthcare, education, renewable energy, transport, and manufacturing.  The greater versatility and capabilities of 5G means that it will most likely be used for more than mobile broadband for consumers and businesses.

5G & the Environment

While the international Standards do not directly specify that their restrictions are applicable for the protection of flora and fauna, those Standards do consider research addressing adverse health effects across a range of non-human species, which did not find evidence for harm within the restrictions.

 

A recent workshop addressing the research on flora and fauna, was convened by the Bericht fur Strahlenschutz (“BfS”), Germany’s radiation protection body, where it concluded that So far, no harmful effects on animals and plants that are triggered by artificial electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic fields have been proven”.  Accordingly, adherence to the international Standards can also be considered to provide protection against adverse health effects to flora and fauna.

 

A report published by Columbia University in August 2020 concludes that 5G will reduce energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enable energy microgrids to be brought online if/when the main grid fails, and will provide many opportunities to protect and preserve the environment.  The report specifically states the following:

 

“5G linked with the Internet of Things (“IoT”), will also reduce energy use, as devices will be able to power up and shut down automatically when not needed. Sensors in appliances, transportation networks, buildings, factories, streetlights, residences and more will monitor and analyse their energy needs and consumption in real time and automatically optimise energy use.  For example, in the U.S., smart electricity meters installed in the Empire State Building have helped to reduce energy costs by 38 percent. GE’s Digital Power Plant for Steam in France, equipped with 10,000 sensors to improve plant efficiency, got the Guinness World Record for the world’s most efficient power plant.”

 

“Because saving energy also means cutting greenhouse gas emissions, GE’s Digital Power Plant software is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 3 percent and fuel use by 67,000 tons of coal per year. A study done by Ericcson, a leading information and communication technology provider, projects that IoT could cut carbon emissions 15 percent by 2030.”

 

“The speed, capacity and connectivity of 5G will provide many opportunities to protect and preserve the environment. 5G technology with IoT will be able to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enable more use of renewable energy. It can help reduce air and water pollution, minimize water and food waste, and protect wildlife. It can also expand our understanding of and hence improve decision-making about weather, agriculture, pests, industry, waste reduction and much more.”  Source: 

 

“5G and the IoT will enable microgrids to be brought online when the main grid fails or is unavailable. This will make it possible to better integrate intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar into the grid.”

 

Source:  Columbia University August 13, 2020– The Coming 5G Revolution: How Will It Affect the Environment?  https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2020/08/13/coming-5g-revolution-will-affect-environment/

Frequency Bands Used in 5G Technology

The frequency bands used by 5G as defined by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) include two frequency bands:

  • Frequency Range 1 (FR1) incorporating sub 6 GHz frequency bands; and
  • Frequency Range 2 (FR2) incorporating frequency bands in the mmWave range (24-100 GHz).

5G & Spectrum in Bermuda

While a number of frequency bands already allocated in Bermuda are compatible with 5G services, as of April 2021, there are no existing 5G networks in Bermuda.

 

To build out new 5G networks, new Spectrum (or re-use of existing Spectrum) will be required. All new applications for licensable spectrum must be made by licensed sectoral providers or for private use through the standard process.

 

All wireless networks (whether new Spectrum or changes to existing wireless network elements) will be required to comply with the Appropriate Safety Standards as identified in the recent Radiofrequency and 5G Safety Final Report, Decision and Order published in May 2021. These requirements include Pre- and Post- Commissioning Exposure verification processes that are designed to ensure that all wireless networks in Bermuda comply with the Appropriate Safety Standards.