5G health concerns have slowed 5G deployment in Switzerland

ZURICH–The internet has served as a revolutionary tool to connect people, facilitate the exchange of ideas, help us access the latest, dankest memes and let fringe ideologies gain share of voice–case in point, the startling number of webizens who believe the earth is flat.

And that same type of ill-informed thinking as applied to 5G is actually holding up deployments. Sunrise CEO Olaf Swantee, in a wide-ranging keynote at Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum this week, likened those concerned about perceived negative health impacts of 5G to flat earthers.

Swantee spoke broadly about moonshots and “the importance of thinking big.” Paying homage to Bill Gates and Elon Musk, he said 5G was considered a moonshot but has now come to life. In Switzerland, in fact, Sunrise launched commercial 5G services in March with initial coverage in 150 towns, cities and villages. That number has grown to include more population centers as well as a ski resort and a stadium. But there’s a looming hold up to continued deployment.

Fueled by online chatter, some Swiss citizens are calling out potential health impacts of 5G. In the cantons of Geneva and Vaud, for example, officials have halted new site builds for the time being with opponents pushing for a referendum on the topic.

In September, there was a relatively large protest against 5G in Bern and a group called Frequencia has organized to pressure government officials. Given Switzerland’s leadership in 5G–Sunrise and Swisscom are both aggressively building with operator Salt finalizing its plans, the organized opposition stands in stark contrast to operator ambitions for nationwide coverage.

“It’s absurd,” Swantee said. “Let’s treat 5G as a true moonshot…with a multitude of applications that are good for society, businesses and consumers.”





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