Have you heard about 5G? If you have, do you understand what it involves and what it might mean for you and your family? If you use a smartphone—and even if you do not—you should be concerned, because it’s quite likely 5G will be coming to where you live in the near future. There is increasing excitement about what it will make possible. However, there are also grave concerns about how it will impact our collective health, the environment, and cybersecurity. Will it be revolutionary—or a planetary catastrophe?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile networking service and is being introduced commercially on a small scale by all major United Kingdom mobile phone operators in 2019. Similar rollouts are occurring in China, Japan, South Korea, some European Union countries, and the United States. 5G offers high-speed, almost instantaneous (“super-low latency”) communication up to 1,000 times faster than 4G. This is achieved by using higher frequencies in the electromagnetic (radio frequency) spectrum to communicate, and by increasing what is called bandwidth efficiency, meaning more users can be connected with more connection points in a limited geographic area.
You might ask, “Why do we need 5G? We can already do so many amazing things with 4G.”
The new, faster standard will make possible what is frequently called the Internet of Things—the wireless connection of everyday items to allow data on them to be collected, analysed, and manipulated. These items could be anything, including mundane household appliances, farm equipment, watches and clocks, water mains, various robots, hospital devices, and even the computers and machines used by businesses and emergency services—all could be networked together, accessed, and monitored online. 5G will enable self-driving cars to communicate with each other and with traffic monitoring systems—potentially preventing accidents by reacting up to 200 times faster than human drivers. There is a world of possibilities and potential just waiting for the mind of man to explore it.
The big focus of 5G enthusiasm is about the vast increase in computing capabilities that will result from massive improvements in communication and extraordinary amounts of data transfer. Experts believe these developments may have the potential to generate a new Industrial Revolution, producing jobs and boosting national economies. Estimates suggest that in the next few years we could see literally millions of 5G base stations on Earth and 20,000 new 5G satellites in low Earth orbit, connected to 200 billion transmitting objects.
Wider rollout of 5G, however, is going to take significant investment and time before it reaches our neighbourhoods. Compared to 4G signals, which blanket the airwaves in all directions, 5G, at frequencies of 10 to 300GHz (gigahertz) and a one-millimetre wavelength, is unable to pass through buildings or trees and can even be disrupted by rainfall. To overcome these difficulties, 5G phased-array base antennas, transmitting multiple narrow, steerable, high-power signals, need to be positioned just 200 metres apart in a grid. The same antennas in all 5G devices, either stationary or moving, will seek to establish a continuous connection with the base antennas. Existing legislation will permit these signals to be at least ten times more powerful (up to 20 watts) than current 4G signals.
Some argue that insufficient independent safety tests have been carried out on 5G technologies to determine their impact on human health or the environment. In the United States, many believe the Federal Communications Commission is not providing adequate regulation of the 5G industry. In an effort to counteract this, some groups have organized protests such as the “International Appeal: Stop 5G on Earth and in Space” petition—with more than 130,000 signatories from over 198 countries as of August—which seeks to prevent the rollout of 5G networks until more research has been performed examining the potential health effects of the technology. One of the signatures is that of Dr. Martin Pall, Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and Medical Sciences at Washington State University, who says, “Putting in tens of millions of 5G antennae without a single biological test of safety has got to be about the stupidest idea anyone has had in the history of the world” (5G: Great Risk for EU, U.S. and International Health, p. 81).
Others stress the cybersecurity risk posed by 5G mobile networks and infrastructure. They look to the fact that the Chinese tech giant Huawei is a leader in the field of 5G technologies, investing $2 billion in the last ten years. This puts them ahead of even U.S. tech giants, who normally dominate the development of such new technologies. In the case of 5G, “it looks like the US is losing” and “China’s edge in 5G is disorientating the US,” according to a Time magazine article from May 23, 2019. The U.S. government now requires American companies to obtain a special license to do business with Huawei, leading several U.S. tech giants to sever their ties with the firm. The stated concern is about cyber espionage, saying Huawei is a pawn of the Chinese government. According to Time magazine, the fear is that once everything—factories, power plants, hospitals, airports, and more—is connected by 5G, a sustained cyber-attack would cause societal collapse. The EU and U.K. are supporting the use of Huawei hardware in non-critical 5G installations, much to the chagrin of the U.S., whose leaders do not want their allies dependent on Chinese technology.
Of course, many hope that 5G will usher in a better world—and hope, as well, that concerns about the technology are overblown. Considering how society uses technology now, we can regrettably be sure that mankind will use 5G technology for both good and evil. Prophecy is clear, and mankind continues to use the tools at His disposal to create a world that groans in corruption, yearning for a better age to come (Romans 8:22–23).
What can we learn from all this at a spiritual level? If the aspirations for 5G can be realised, the world is about to be engulfed by a radically different electromagnetic environment of our own making. The airwaves will be saturated with it; it will blanket us, impacting us in unknown and unanticipated ways—ways quite possibly injurious to our health. We will not see it or hear it, but we will know it is there.
Unknown to most people, we are already surrounded by a sort of spiritual broadcast that constantly works against our well-being. Your Bible explains this in Ephesians 2:2, which refers to Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” who saturates and blankets this world with his ungodly ways and thoughts. Like radio waves, he is not seen or heard, but his influence is all around us for evil, and Scripture assures us he is there.
The Gospel message we proclaim is all about a radically different spiritual environment that will soon cover the entire globe. Satan’s environment will be “turned off” by the returning Jesus Christ. Can you imagine a world in which this destructive influence will be completely removed? The Bible describes the earth at that time as being “full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). All life will blossom and prosper in this new, transformed spiritual environment and the result will be peace, good health, and happiness—a beautiful, restored world in harmony at last with its Creator (Acts 3:21).