5G illustration. - Yichuan Cao / Sipa USA / SIPA

  • An infographic shared more than 20,000 times on Facebook contains ten statements about the deployment of 5G.
  • Waves, personal data, antennas, satellites ... 20 Minutes reviews these claims.

Relay antenna fires, conspiracy theories… The deployment of 5G worries. An infographic grouping together ten statements is widely shared on Facebook. First published by an association, the document was withdrawn due to inaccuracies (see box). Personal data, waves, antennas, impact on animal life, computer graphics scans a wide spectrum of claims, which 20 Minutes therefore wanted to verify.

This infographic was shared by several Facebook pages and accounts. - Facebook screenshot

  • What the infographic says: "An antenna every ten to twelve houses"

"It's a terrible shortcut," points out Alain Sibille, professor at Télécom Paris and secretary general of Ursi-France (French National Committee for Scientific Radioelectricity). "5G will use a frequency a little different from 4G," he says. 5G will be at 3.5 GHz. When the generations advance [3G, 4G, and 5G today], we increase in frequency. The higher the frequency, the more difficult the propagation. This means that when you go up in frequency, you need more antennas because the range is less. The network antennas will get a little closer to the users, on a statistical average. "

This possible bringing together of the antennas means that the antennas will send less watts, explains the scientist: "When you get closer to the users, the propagation is easier. So we need months of power. If we have smaller cells on 5G, we will emit less watts. What may seem frightening, it may rather be the opposite. I tend to say that the smaller the cells and the closer the network antennas are to the users, the better. "

An analysis shared by Guy Pujolle, professor emeritus at Lip6, computer research laboratory at Sorbonne university: “If there were an antenna every ten to twelve houses, it would be absolutely great, since the flow is multiplied with the number of antennas and that each antenna transmits with much less power. You have to understand that the more antennas there are, the less dangerous it is, since the power of the transmitters goes down. "The specialist however sees badly the antennas multiply:" Unfortunately, it will not happen like that, because it would be much too expensive for operators to put as much. "

  • What the infographic says: "Premature and mandatory renewal of all equipment"

The arrival of 5G is scheduled for early 2021 in part of French territory. It will take time before being deployed throughout the territory. Even after the entry into service of this new technology, your phone will continue to operate in 4G if it is equipped for. On the other hand, to use 5G, you will have to change your smartphone effectively, warns the National Frequency Agency (ANFR).

  • What the infographic says: "20,000 satellites in orbit"

“Many announcements were made by start-ups, details Gilles Brégant, director of the ANFR , at 20 Minutes . There have been requests for authorization to put a large number of satellites into orbit. These start-ups have offered to send a lot of satellites, so as to provide satellite coverage around the world. It has nothing to do with 5G. The objective of SpaceX, an Elon Musk company, is to send 42,000 satellites into space. "To give an order of magnitude, there are less than 10,000 satellites that have been launched since the start of the satellites", underlines Gilles Brégant

The French Telecoms Federation, which brings together operators, specifies to 20 Minutes that "French operators do not plan to launch satellites for the use of 5G".

  • What the infographic says: "5G promises to connect everything, everywhere and over time, thanks to the permanent collection of our personal data"

"The personal data of 5G users will be managed in the same way as when using 3G and 4G technologies," emphasizes the French Telecoms Federation. Operators have the legal obligation confirmed by the GDPR to respect the privacy of users and to guarantee the secrecy of correspondence, regardless of the technology implemented by the operator. "

For Guy Pujolle, the mass of data that will pass through data centers raises questions, however: “Everyone will go through 5G in the short or medium term. Operators are developing data centers to manage the antennas and all these new applications. They have a lot of information on hand. What will they do ? Will they exploit them? These are questions that arise. "

  • What the infographic says: "Multiplication of the waves by ten"

Guy Pujolle is puzzled by such an assertion: "I have no idea what that means. The electromagnetic waves of the sun represent 90% of the waves we receive. Are we going to multiply the waves of the sun by 10? I think the person who writes this has no idea what an electromagnetic wave is. "

Gilles Brégant, of the ANFR, emphasizes that 5G will broadcast "according to demand, not according to supply", unlike 4G for example. "There is an interaction that is very short with the antenna," he says. This will send what you need for two, three seconds, the next kilobytes of your video or music, and then it will pass to another client. It makes a cover which is sequential, at very high speed. If there is no one with a 5G phone, there is only a very weak broadcast to verify that there is no one who needs something. "

  • What the infographic says: "5G in France will lead to overconsumption of electricity equivalent to two nuclear reactors"

"It makes no sense," reacts Guy Pujolle. Consumption is extremely complex to calculate. "In 4G antennas, an electronic unit, which performs signal processing in particular, is the main energy expenditure, explains the scientist. For 5G antennas, this box is virtualized in a data center, connected to several antennas.

"The 5G antennas were designed to use very little energy," explains the professor. If we consider only the antenna, 5G antennas consume much less energy than a 4G antenna. Now, if we compare a complete 5G antenna with the associated virtual machine and the 4G antenna with its NodeB [the electronic unit], we can say that it is equivalent, but it completely depends on how the data center is managed , whether it is optimized or not. "

  • What the infographic says: "[5G] would impact the observations and forecasts of astronomers and meteorologists"

Astronomers fear increased visual pollution due to the launch of many satellites by projects like the one carried by SpaceX. These satellite projects are not linked to the development of 5G.

Meteorologists, for their part, fear interference from 5G with some of their frequencies. This concern is linked to “the whirlwind start of American 5G,” recalls Gilles Brégant. “Around 23 GHz, there is a frequency band that is used by meteorologists. It is used to calibrate the air humidity. The Americans had authorized low-cost 5G antennas at 28 GHz, which made "noise" in the 23 GHz. "And to add:" In Europe, we have set standards to protect the weather. "

  • What the infographic says: "5G has a negative impact on the life of insects, calling into question the proper functioning of ecosystems essential for our survival"

A study published in 2018 in the prestigious journal Nature looked at the impact of waves on four insect species. "The insects studied of less than 1 cm have an absorption peak at frequencies (above 6 GHz) which are currently not often used for telecommunications, but which are planned to be used in the next generation of wireless telecommunications systems [5G], "write the authors.

However, as Le Monde reminds us , the authors state that they have not "carried out complete thermal simulations, due to uncertainties about the specific thermal capacities of insects and the mechanisms of heat dissipation". More studies are needed to measure the impact on insects.

  • What the infographic says: "Mineral mining uses child labor and results in the death of humans, hence their name" blood minerals ". It generates pollution of soil, air and water. "

Mining for the production of electronic equipment was not born with 5G. Its human and environmental cost is documented.


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What does 5G change for us?

The association Zero Waste Strasbourg has removed the infographic from its accounts on social networks, once its members alerted of the errors contained in the document. "When we realized it, we backed out and we deleted everything," says Simon Baumert, co-founder of the association. There was no desire for disinformation. "
The graphics, however, was relayed by other pages or Facebook accounts, which do not have any deleted. "We wrote to the main pages asking them to delete the infographic," says Simon Baumert. He specifies that the association should soon set up a verification process, so that the error is not repeated.

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