Bern (dpa) - The fifth generation of mobile communications (5G) with ultra-fast data connections can only be tried out in a few places in Germany.
Seven months after the end of the frequency auction, you have to target 5G hotspots such as the Berlin Adlershof technology park or manageable areas in the Mitte district in order to use a 5G network. It's different in Switzerland: "5G model country", enthuses the magazine "Connect" just after measuring the performance of mobile networks.
With the new mobile radio standard, the Alpine country is way ahead of all Europeans and almost the rest of the world. "Switzerland has the highest number of 5G locations after the United States," says Garrett Snyder of the US company Ookla, which publishes an interactive world map of 5G locations.
And that despite the fact that Switzerland sometimes has ten times stricter limits for mobile phone radiation than Germany and most other countries. Here and there, immission limits of up to 61 volts per meter apply to mobile radio transmitters. In addition, Switzerland has limit values for systems in the vicinity of apartments, schools, hospitals, workplaces and playgrounds. There is a maximum of 6 volts per meter. In the cities, most facilities are therefore already at their limit. An expansion is no longer possible there.
Therefore, business and telecoms association (Asut) fear for the top spot. They demand a relaxation of the strict limit values - while at the same time the resistance to new antennas is growing out of fear of more radiation. Some cantons in western Switzerland have already issued a moratorium on the construction of additional 5G antennas. On the day of the protest against 5G, at the end of January 2000 people demonstrated in 16 cities according to the "Protection against Radiation" association.
If the limit values do not change, then there will be an end to model countries, says the industrial association Economiesuisse: "If there is no network available in Switzerland, new products, services and innovations will be created at a different location." If the limit values remain, a further 12,300 are required in addition to the 26,000 current antenna locations, a working group from the Ministry of Environment has calculated. The time required for construction? "20 to 30 years." However, the network could be expanded internationally competitively with existing locations if the limit per provider was increased to 11 or for a system to 20 volts per meter.
This is a horror picture for the critics. Every tenth citizen has symptoms of electrosensitivity, which can be manifested by exhaustion, sleep disorders, heart problems or muscle tension, according to the citizens' initiative, which wants a referendum "for a health-friendly and energy-saving mobile phone". Many conditions should be tightened, she says. For example, when planning new plants or increasing the performance of existing plants, companies will need the written consent of people living within 400 meters in the future.
The two largest Swiss providers, top dog Swisscom with a market share of around 60 percent in mobile communications and Sunrise with around 26 percent, are still pushing ahead with their 5G expansion. Swisscom speaks of 320 5G locations, Sunrise of 384.
Why are the Swiss so far ahead of 5G compared to Germany? On the one hand because of the early and fair licensing, says an industry expert. After the auction in early February 2019, operations began in April. The auction had just started in Germany. In addition, the government was not chasing billions in profits. The auction flushed about half as much into the state coffers per capita as in Germany. "If operators have to put astronomical amounts for the licenses, less money remains for the network expansion," says the industry expert.
On the other hand, the Swiss spend more money on information and communication technology than almost any other country, but they also demand the best networks and the latest standards. That demands the providers. "In other markets, consumers react more to price differences," says Sunrise spokesman Rolf Ziebold.
The 5G network should make much more bandwidth, higher transmission rates and shorter response times possible. According to industry estimates, the volume of data transported via mobile networks doubles approximately every 18 months. "There will be applications in three or four years that we cannot even imagine today," said Swisscom spokesman Armin Pesteli.
The German Stiftung Warentest subjected the arguments of the 5G critics to a fact check in autumn. Conclusion: According to the current state of research "there is hardly any reason to worry" that cell phone radiation causes cancer or harms sperm. No major changes are to be expected from the 5G expansion either. If you don't let it calm you down, you can reduce the radiation exposure with a few simple methods. So it helps to keep your distance when using mobile phones. Already a few centimeters of safety distance between the ear and the cell phone significantly reduce radiation exposure. Therefore, the product testers recommend a headset or a hands-free system.