Kia ora koutou

As 5G begins its roll out in Aotearoa New Zealand, lots of people are asking what exactly 5G is and what it will mean for our country, our health, and our way of living. There are many legitimate questions to ask around the safety of any new technology, and there is also a lot of misinformation around 5G. To address this, we have launched a webpage providing information on 5G, which can be accessed here.

nz safety_standards cell cites landscape

5G is the 5th generation of cellular network (after 2G, 3G, and 4G). There are some key differences compared to the previous networks and as with each generation before, there are exciting potential benefits. While elements of the technology are new, radio transmissions have been in use in NZ for over one hundred years.

The ‘internet of things’ can be further enabled by 5G – so devices will be more readily able to talk to other devices. This opens up wide possibilities, e.g. potentially providing new lifelines for the elderly, particularly those who may be socially isolated, at risk for injury or medical events, or unable to safely drive.

A lot of the commentary on 5G has focused more on the risks than the benefits. Key concerns that people have raised centre around:

  • Health. People are concerned that higher frequencies, greater numbers of transmitters, and different types of beaming could have adverse health impacts.
  • Environment. Concerns raised include impacts on bees and other small creatures, trees and vegetation, and the visual impacts of greater numbers of transmitters.
  • Security. There are concerns that 5G will be less secure than previous networks and could leave sensitive data vulnerable.

We have provided a balanced view of the evidence in each of these areas and an explanation of the various controls Aotearoa New Zealand has in place to ensure exposure stays significantly under the internationally approved limit. This includes work by agencies like the Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Environment, Radio Spectrum Management, and the Government Communications Security Bureau.

The currently available scientific evidence makes it extremely unlikely that there will be any adverse effects on human or environmental health. NZ needs to continue to monitor the potential for exposure and ensure that we stay within the international safety standard, as well as keeping a close watch on any new research.

We will be updating the website as required – especially the FAQs – so check back for updates.

Ngā mihi