Despite there being no evidence to back the claim, 20pc of Irish people who took part in a Deloitte survey believe 5G poses a health risk.
Deloitte Ireland’s latest Digital Trends Survey on Attitudes has revealed findings on the public’s knowledge about 5G and how many are using it. The survey was carried out between May and June this year, with 1,000 people between the age of 18 and 75 taking part.
Although a ComReg report earlier this year found no evidence that radiation from mobile masts – including those transmitting 5G connectivity – poses a risk to human health, 20pc of respondents to the Deloitte survey agreed with the statement that there are health risks associated with 5G and another 25pc neither agreed nor disagreed.
Reacting to these figures, John Kehoe, an audit partner at Deloitte and lead on this latest survey, said misinformation is “always a barrier to technological progress”.
“That is a worryingly high number and is further exacerbated by the fact that, based on our survey, a greater proportion of young people aged 18 to 24 believe there are health risks (27pc), compared to 20pc overall and 7pc of those aged 65 to 75,” he said.
“There needs to be a concerted effort to promote the benefits of 5G to the general consumer. Overall, however, 64pc of respondents agreed that they didn’t know enough about 5G in general.”
Citing international research, the Irish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other organisations continue to state that no consequences for public health are expected from the roll-out of 5G.
A favourable roll-out
In terms of the roll-out of 5G connectivity, Kehoe said that Ireland compares favourably with other nations. Irish telecom operators are now running 5G networks with coverage expected to range between 30pc and 50pc of the Irish population by 2021.
Three Ireland switched on its 5G network in September, with a population coverage of 35pc. Eir said in the same month that its 5G availability has increased more than threefold since the service was launched last year. Vodafone Ireland was the first company to launch a commercial 5G service in the country, beginning the roll-out of its next-generation network in August 2019.
“While 5G roll-out has been slow, we [in Ireland] nonetheless compare favourably,” Kehoe said. “Other markets are likely to see strong demand, particularly in Asia, with China leading due to its strong investment in 5G infrastructure. In some of these markets, 5G is perceived to be of critical strategic interest, and major investment has been encouraged.”
Adoption currently remains low in Ireland, with only 5pc of survey respondents saying they were using 5G, and 24pc saying they would switch as soon it is available. Nearly half of all 5G users were in the Dublin area and in the under-35 age category.