A ‘weapons grade’ phone technology that has sparked health concerns – and been linked with a spate of suicides at Bristol University – will be tested at Glastonbury Festival.
A 5G mobile network is to be trialled during Glasto as part of EE’s ongoing trials of the technology. 5G is the next generation of mobile network and is expected to begin publicly rolling out later this year, offering internet speeds up to double that of current generation 4G. EE has said it will install five temporary masts across the Worthy Farm site, which will enable festival-goers to connect to 2G, 3G, 4G and – for the first time 5G – networks. The trial will be the first time the technology has been installed at a festival.
While many scientists believe 5G is perfectly safe, some – including a public health professor at the University of California – have described 5g as “a massive experiment on the health of all species”.
Organisations, including a group in Cornwall called Villagers Against Masts (VAM), have launched campaigns to call for greater scrutiny of mobile phone technology and coverage, citing serious concerns over health risks, especially mental health.
Jane Harvey, founding member of VAM, said she has deep concerns about the amount of masts needed for 5g network.
She said: “Since researching the health effects, I have a real concern over masts, but also Wi-Fi and the looming 5g technology. 5g is not good at all. Unfortunately Cornwall and Cumbria have been chosen to trial 5g in rural areas.
“The US has seen 5g rolling out in many places, impacting human health, wildlife and the environment.
“5g requires closer connectivity, a mast every 10-20 houses. So, imagine the countryside dotted with these.
“Also, once they get permission for one mast on an AONB, a precedent is set and it would be very tricky to stop more.”
Jane said research showed that having rolled out 5g in US, there has been massive spikes in depression and anxiety, as well as a host of other complaints.
She added: “5g is a weapons grade frequency. There is no knowing the future implications for us – we are the guinea pigs.
“Over 200 scientists from 38 countries around the world have signed a petition to put on hold the 5g roll out. Thousands of scientists have published papers showing evidence of the harm 5g will cause.”
Jane also cited a spate of suicides at Bristol University. Over the last year or so, they have had an unprecedented number of students committing suicide.
“Bristol University has it’s own 5g network surrounding the uni. They use it to trial driverless cars etc.
“I think this is a factor that is worth considering since it is so closely linked with depression and anxiety.” she added.
The new 5g network communicates through millimeter waves (MMWs) rather than microwaves, as previous generations have.
These smaller waves cannot travel as far, or through as many types of materials. This means that there will need to be far more individual ‘small cell towers’ closer together.
The 5G technology is too new to have been thoroughly tested and studied by many parties outside of cell service providers.
Dr Joel Moskowitz, a public health professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Mail Online MMWs could pose a very real danger.
“The deployment of 5G, or fifth generation cellular technology, constitutes a massive experiment on the health of all species,” he told Daily Mail Online.
“Because MMWs are weaker than microwaves, they are predominantly absorbed by the skin, meaning their distribution is quite focused there.
“Since skin contains capillaries and nerve endings, MMW bio-effects may be transmitted through molecular mechanisms by the skin or through the nervous system.”
The International Society of Doctors for the Environment, its subsidiaries in 27 countries and more than 200 doctors and scientists are also calling for the 5G roll out to be stopped, Dr Moskowitz told The Mail.
In a paper called ‘Towards 5G communication systems: Are there health implications?’ , published in the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Italian doctor Agostino Di Ciaula said the health effects were still under investigation – but oncologic and non-cancerous chronic effects have been suggested.
“Underrating the problem could lead to a further rise in noncommunicable diseases,” said Dr Di Ciaula.
However, other scientists are convinced 5g signals pose no danger to health.
Pete Jeavons, EE and BT’s marketing and communications director, said: “Smartphones have become a festival must-have as we’ve seen each year with more and more data being consumed at Glastonbury Festival.
“As the long-standing technology partner to this iconic event, we are committed to building a network powerful enough to cope with this huge demand.
“With the introduction of 5G this year, we are able to trial this new technology at Worthy Farm and make history as the UK’s first 5G-connected festival.”
EE is predicting a record amount of data to be used during the festival, which will attract 200,000 people between June 26 and 30.
The firm says it expects more than 70 terabytes to be used – the equivalent to 784 million Instagram posts.
Acts performing at this year’s event include Stormzy, Kylie Minogue, Miley Cyrus, The Killers, The Cure and Janet Jackson.
As well as the 5G trial, EE has confirmed it will again have its Recharge Tent in place, offering free charging to all festival attendees.
The firm will sell Juice Tube Power Bars for £20, which once out of battery can be swapped for free, once a day, for a fully charged one to allow mobile charging while on the site.
Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis said: “We’re extremely pleased to have EE back again, providing the best possible network for our rural site.
“And it’s great that we’re going to be one of the first places in the UK to offer 5G.”
EE has already run a number of 5G trials and is one of a number of telecoms firms currently testing the technology across different parts of the UK ahead of the anticipated public rollout, due to start later in 2019.