Do the French believe that the arrival of 5G is technological progress or a pandora’s box with unsuspected environmental and health effects? A bit of both if we are to believe an Ifop opinion poll for the Lemon.fr site. According to this survey (Editor’s note: the survey was conducted online from September 15 to 16 with a sample of 1,017 people, representative of the French population aged 18 and over) that we are revealing to you, 63% of the population want the public authorities to facilitate the deployment of this new technology, which is supposed to offer subscribers a hundred times faster speeds. While environmentalists are against the deployment of these new antennas, even supporters of EELV are 57% in favor of the development of 5G.
But this adhesion is tinged with great caution. While 66% of city dwellers living in an agglomeration of 100,000 inhabitants or more believe that 5G “constitutes progress for society”, 51% believe that 5G “has proven negative effects on human health”. Proof that the subject is highly sensitive, the Minister of Ecology Barbara Pompili insisted on affirming this Wednesday that there was “no risk”. It is based in particular on a report commissioned by the government and made public on Tuesday, which states that there are no “proven adverse effects in the short term below” the recommended limit values for exposure to electromagnetic waves.
“This survey shows that the French have a very measured, almost reasoned position on the subject, analyzes Jean-Philippe Dubrulle, director of studies at Ifop. While they tend to agree on the principle of developing 5G, they do have big reservations about the consequences for their privacy and the environment. “72% believe that the generalization of this new technology” will allow a greater collection of personal data by public and private bodies “. 65% also believe that “the increase in electricity consumption caused by the use” of 5G “constitutes a threat to natural resources and the environment”.
Macron wants to “take the turn of 5G”
In recent days, pro and anti-5G have been divided on the need to establish a moratorium while it is time to verify the safety of this future mobile network. 70 left-wing elected officials and environmentalists requested it in a forum on Sunday. Requirement swept away with the back of the hand by Emmanuel Macron. The President of the Republic said he wanted to “take the turn of 5G”. Pointing without naming them the environmentalists, he blasted those who prefer the “return to the oil lamp”. “By adopting a cautious position, the French are sending back to back pro and anti who have sometimes adopted caricatural postures with on one side almost scientific supporters of this new technology and on the other some elected green officials making extremely alarmist remarks” , underlines Jean-Philippe Dubrulle.
Asked about the possibility of a moratorium, a minority (48%) is in favor of a suspension of 5G at least until the summer of 2021. In the camp of opponents, however, we continue to demand a break on the allocation of frequency bands to the different operators pending the results of the report from the national health security agency in early 2021. “Independent studies on health effects are only useful if they are carried out before the deployment of 5G” , recalls as obvious Arnaud Durand, lawyer at the bar of Paris and bearer of a collective action in justice against the deployment of these new branches.
But in a survey carried out by the OpinionWay institute, 77% of the population considers that “the controversies over the risks of 5G will complicate its deployment”. Everyone still has in mind the countless legal battles waged in recent years by associations, residents’ groups or elected officials against the installation of pylons at the top of buildings. But on this point, public opinion today seems to have changed. According to Ifop, 56% of people questioned consider mobile phone antennas and cell phones “safe” for human health. They were only 18% to think so in 2011.
Only a hundred subscribers in Monaco
Launched in July 2019 in the principality, 5G is not currently a hit, having only succeeded in attracting a hundred Monaco Telecom subscribers who can access an offer from 40 euros per month for 20 gigabytes of mobile internet. A debate around its effects on the environment and health has indeed taken place but it is first and foremost, in the opinion of the authorities, the lack of compatible smartphones which explains this limited enthusiasm. “The primary objective of the deployment of 5G was not to have thousands of private subscribers, reassures Frédéric Genta, the interministerial delegate for the digital transition of the principality. The launch of this technology further boosts our economic development plan based 100% on digital technology. “
The first European country to deploy a 5G commercial offer over its entire territory (of just over 2 km2), Monaco is indeed starting to attract companies that need this ultra-fast mobile Internet for the manufacture of products and services. . “This is the case, for example, with Vizua, which specializes in software using 3D and augmented reality,” says Frédéric Genta.
For the 38,000 inhabitants, 5G has above all made it possible to offer very high-speed wi-fi coverage, without having to resort to fiber requiring major road works, but thanks to small antennas installed on the bus shelters of the city. Firefighters also benefit from the technology that allows them to obtain much better images provided by their drones deployed during their interventions.