Most of Swiss far from militant when it comes to 5G

5G comes to Bern, March 2019. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

A survey on the ongoing rollout of 5G in Switzerland found the population fairly evenly divided on the issue, with those holding extreme positions in the minority.

This content was published on May 11, 2021 - 17:47

Some 13% of the 7,000 respondents polled were “strongly opposed” to 5G, while 11% were “strongly in favour”, wrote the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich on Tuesday.

In the middle of these extreme camps, 27% were “rather in favour” and 24% “rather against”. A quarter of respondents were undecided.

The representative survey by ETHZ academics did find some divergence among different groups of respondents: for example, men saw “significantly” more personal benefits to 5G than women, and were more likely to support the continued rollout of the 5G network. Women on the other hand were “more likely to think that the federal government and cantons are not doing enough to protect people from radiation”.

On radiation: while 59% of respondents believed they were exposed to little or no radiation from devices like mobile phones, tablets and computers, a good two-thirds believed that the population is not adequately protected against radiation from mobile antennas.

And although the current rollout of 5G is happening within frequency limits already used for existing networks, a majority of respondents (57%) believed that 5G poses greater health risks than 3G or 4G, the survey found.

Respondents from French-speaking Switzerland saw significantly more downsides, for themselves and for the country, than respondents from German-speaking and Italian-speaking Switzerland.

5G technology, which is already being rolled out in Switzerland, has been the source of skepticism and opposition over the past few years, with various groups worried about effects on health, privacy, and the environment.

In the face of public pressure, some Swiss cantons, notably in the French-speaking part of the country, have introduced moratoriums on the construction of new antennae. Opponents have also launched citizen campaigns. Two people’s initiatives are currently in the works; they have until the middle of this year to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to force a public vote.

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