Brussels 5G scare sparks no action over Huawei in Malta

Malta's communications watchdog will only investigate Huawei's testing on the island if it is requested to do so by the Environmental Health Authority

In 2015, the Maltese government signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to launch 5G connectivity, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. Silvio Schembri (left) said Malta is moving in line with EU recommendations on 5G
In 2015, the Maltese government signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to launch 5G connectivity, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications. Silvio Schembri (left) said Malta is moving in line with EU recommendations on 5G

The Malta Communications Authority (MCA) will only investigate the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei’s 5G testing on the island if it receives any direction from the Environmental Health Authority.

The Belgian capital Brussels halted all 5G testing due to a breach of the Belgian radiation standard of 95 megawatts per square metre (or 9V per metre).

The Brussels region has particularly strict radiation standards for telecom applications. The standard of 6 volts per metre has already led to problems in the past with providing fast mobile internet via 4G in the capital.  “I cannot welcome such technology if the radiation standards, which must protect the citizen, are not respected, 5G or not,” Brussels region environment minister Céline Fremault said. “The people of Brussels are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit. We cannot leave anything to doubt.”

Maltese company Melita already provides a 5G-ready mobile network, with Ericsson.

But the MCA said that service providers and communication networks in Malta were subject to a number of conditions, which includes the maintenance of electromagnetic radiation levels from transmissions in line with standards established by the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In 2015, the Maltese government signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei to launch 5G connectivity, the latest generation of cellular mobile communications.

5G packs in a high data rate, and is energy saving, has a higher system capacity and massive device connectivity.

MaltaToday was unable to get a comment from a Huawei spokesperson.

Malta’s parliamentary secretary for digital innovation, Silvio Schembri, said Malta was engaged with the EU to ensure both the availability of radio spectrum and to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields. “The EU has agreed on a broad set of measures to ensure a common approach across all member states in support of the deployment of 5G networks across Europe. 5G is recognised as a major enabler for future digital services and the Government is actively pursuing this common approach to ensure its timely availability,” Schembri said.

Under a new proposal published last week, the EU’s 28 countries have three months to carry out national risk assessments and then another 15 to tighten new pan-EU standards to protect the critical communications infrastructure, under a European Commission proposal published on Tuesday. The recommendation comes at a time when the EU is in a series of rolling 5G spectrum auctions, and under growing pressure from the US to take a tough line and ban products made by Huawei and other Chinese technology businesses from sensitive systems over spying concerns.

The European Parliament has also published an in-depth analysis on 5G deployment in the EU which admitted that electromagnetic radiation exposure was still a tentative area of discovery. “One aspect, for example, that is not well understood today is the unpredictable propagation patterns that could result in unacceptable levels of human exposure to electromagnetic radiation,” the study said.

Biochemist Martin L. Pall, professor emeritus at Washington State University, has insisted that there are many health risks associated with 5G technology. “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,” he has said, referring to microwave frequency electromagnetic fields released by 5G and which can produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects, including depression.

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