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Switzerland slows down 5G deployment

During a demonstration against 5G, in front of the Swiss Parliament, in Bern, in September 2019. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

This is the paradox of the deployment of 5G in Switzerland. The Confederation, usually mocked for its slowness and its reticence to change, is today paying the price for its haste to install this new technology throughout its territory, without having grasped the citizen stake behind this digital revolution.

As a result, a year after granting the first operating licenses, the deployment of 5G has come up against political opposition, with moratoria to block the new antenna installations and strong citizen mobilization. After months of turning a deaf ear, Bern took its first step towards the opponents on Saturday 15 February. The Confederation has decided to postpone its directives indefinitely while waiting to better measure the real effects of 5G and to keep the current limit values ​​which do not allow this new mobile standard to be deployed at full capacity.

It all started well though. Switzerland was to be the first western country to develop this revolutionary technology, which is supposed to improve speed and reduce latency times to better develop connected objects, from the autonomous car to the smart refrigerator. In less than two months, the frequencies, auctioned for 380 million Swiss francs (357 million euros), had been allocated to the three mobile operators Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt. On April 17, 2019, the first antennas were deployed, and operators promised that 90% of Swiss territory would be covered, from December 2019.

“No idea of ​​the effect of these waves on health”

But, in Geneva, residents begin to feel the first side effects, from April 18, 2019. The movement is launched. Bertrand Buchs, doctor and deputy of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) for the canton of Geneva is still surprised by the “Supersonic speed of concessions offered without any consultation on health, environmental and safety risks with the use by the operator Sunrise of the technology of the Chinese company Huawei. “

Read also No, Brussels has not banned 5G for health reasons

The Swiss government – 51.2% shareholder of the operator Swisscom – did not bother to wait for the publication of an expert report on the risks engendered by 5G. Released in November 2019, it does not offer any concrete recommendations. The doctor does not take off from the skillfully maintained blur. “Operators say they are deploying 5G, but it's improved 4G. The day that 5G really comes, it will be something else. We have no idea how these waves affect health. There is no urgency to deploy 5G in Switzerland. Citizens do not want this jump in hyperconnectivity. “

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