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Deloitte report finds fears of 5G technology 'grossly overblown'

5G fears 'overblown'

Fear not, 5G health hazards are “grossly overblown” going into 2021, according to consulting firm Deloitte.

The company is urging Canadians not to sweat it as telecommunications companies ramp up deployment of next-generation mobile networks in the new year.

In its annual Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report, Deloitte acknowledges perceptions held by some that 5G causes cancer and that 5G-emitted radiation weakens the immune system to allow COVID-19 to spread.

“Both of these fears, in our view, are grossly overblown. We predict that in 2021, it is very unlikely that the radiation from 5G mobile networks and 5G phones will affect the health of any single individual, be it a 5G user, a user of any other generation of mobile phones, or any individual in the vicinity of a mobile network but not actually using a mobile device. There is no link between the growth in COVID-19 infections and the roll-out of 5G networks,” the report states.

“Unfortunately, while extensive scientific evidence proves that mobile phone technologies have no adverse health impacts — not just for 5G but also earlier generations — we also predict that between 10 and 20 per cent of adults in many advanced economies will mistakenly equate 5G with possible harm to their health.”

The 10-20 per cent estimate stems from a May 2020 consumer poll conducted by Deloitte. Canada was not among those countries included in the poll, however.

Among other predictions coming from this year’s TMT report: the adoption of augmented and virtual reality technology will accelerate, albeit for enterprise rather than consumer use.

“The problem is that people don't like wearing headsets, and getting a paycheque and doing your job is a sufficient incentive to do so,” Duncan Stewart, Deloitte Canada’s director of research for TMT.

“But just wearing a VR headset is not a sufficient incentive to do it on your sofa for fun.”

The report, which Stewart co-authored, notes that overall spending on AR and VR headsets, software and services rose 50 per cent to US$12 billion globally in 2020 compared with the year before.

“The headset markets that are moving fastest right now are in immersive training, especially where real-world training would be dangerous, difficult, or expensive; for frontline health care workers; for use in retail (consumer-facing, but still an enterprise use case); and for building digital reality strategies across the domains of hardware, software, and services,” Deloitte concludes.

But even as wider adoption unfolds for businesses in 2021, Stewart said he’s skeptical that it will eventually translate into wider consumer adoption.



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