Wifi performance is the service provider’s problem whether they like it or not

At the Cable Next-Gen Europe event in London a panel discussed the lessons learned from offering 1 Gbps domestic broadband.

It seems like the only way the ISP industry thinks it can persuade consumers to hand over more of their hard-earned cash is to promise ever-better performance. But consumers can be an awkward bunch and have a nasty habit of expecting that promised boost to be delivered. To make things worse they’re not shy about voicing their displeasure to expensive customer service departments.

They just won’t listen to reason. You can try explaining the problem is at their end thanks to rubbish routers, decrepit devices and unhelpful walls but it falls on deaf ears. As far as they’re concerned they’ve been promised 1 Gbps, they’re not getting it and they want to know what the company that took their money is going to do about it.

The consensus among the panel, which featured ISPs, specialist wifi vendors and a big kit vendor, was that wifi is the ISP’s problem whether they like it or not. A big reason for this is that regular punters aren’t even interested in the various technical challenges involved in delivering the promised bandwidth; they only care about the end result.

Having said that there are a lot of technological solutions to this problem, such as mesh wifi as offered by companies like Plume, which was represented on the panel. Mesh looks like a good answer to coverage problems resulting from the limited range of wifi routers, physical obstructions, etc. It’s quite a trending buzzword in the industry right now but even the mesh vendors were careful not to position it as a panacea.

Similarly successive generations of wifi technology, now belatedly using a more consumer-friendly naming scheme, only address part of the problem. Even if you have a 1 Gbps service and the latest Wi-Fi 6 router, of all your devices still have 802.11g wifi chips, which is apparently still commonplace, then you’re still going to get rubbish performance.

According to a straw poll among the panel it’s not uncommon for there to be 20+ wifi connected devices in a given home, through which CSP customers will assess the quality of their service. For this reason there was a consensus that there will be an explosion in managed wifi services offered by CSPs in the near future.

BBWF 2018: Consumers don’t care about tech, just connectivity – BT

Today’s consumer is demanding but disinterested. They don’t care about mobile or broadband or wifi, just top-line connectivity. To meet these demands, BT has pointed to network convergence.

Speaking at Broadband World Forum, Howard Watson, BT’s CTIO, outlined the bigger picture. It’s all about convergence where the dividing lines between wireless and fixed or hardware and software are blurred, with connectivity is viewed as a single concept, bringing together network design, technology convergence and customer insight to create a single software-orientated network for device neutral connectivity.

“For the consumer, it’s not about their wifi, or their mobile connection, or their fixed broadband, or even their landline,” said Watson. “It’s about connectivity as a whole. And I’m pleased to say we’re already making strong progress here.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a telco conference without mentioning 5G, and this is a critical component of the BT story. Trials have already begun in East London, though over the next couple of days 10 additional nodes will be added to expand the test. Plans are already underway to launch a converged hardware portfolio, introduce IP voice for customers and create a seamless wifi experience. All of this will be built on a single core network.

But what does this mean for the consumer? Simplicity in the simplest of terms.

The overall objective is to create a seamless connectivity experience which underpins the consumer disinterest in anything but being connected. Soon enough, devices will be able to automatically detect and select the best connectivity option, whether it is wifi or cellular for example, essentially meaning consumers will not have to check anything on their devices. Gone will be the days where you have to worry about your device clinging onto weak wifi signal or being disrupted by a network reaching out to your device, according to Watson. Signing in will become a distant memory as the consumer seamlessly shift from wifi to mobile.

This is of course a grand idea, and there is still a considerable amount of work to be done. Public wifi is pretty woeful as a general rule, and mobile connectivity is patchy in some of the busiest and remotest regions in the UK, but in fairness to BT, it does look like a sensible and well thought out plan.

With telcos becoming increasingly utilitised, these organizations need to start adding value to the lives of the consumer. Connectivity is not enough anymore, as it has become a basic expectation not a luxury in today’s digitally-defined society; providing the seamless experience might just be one way BT can prove its value. Fortunately, with its broadband footprint, EE’s mobile network and 5000 public wifi spots throughout the UK, BT is in a strong position to make the converged network dream a reality.

Wi-Fi Alliance finally concedes 802.11 is too geeky a name for types of wifi

The supremely geeky 802.11 brand almost certainly alienates regular punters so the decision has belated been made to change it.

For some reason the only way we have had of differentiating generations of wifi technology to date has been to write down 802.11 and then stick some letters after it. Understandably this has failed to resonate with the mass market and therefore presumably made it difficult to offer the latest generation as a unique selling point to baffled potential router buyers.

Wi-Fi_6_high-res

The current best version of wifi on offer is 802.11ax, which was preceded by the equally catchy 802.11ac. It’s not like there’s even much of rationale to the naming – what happened to 802.11ad-aw? And before that we had 802.11n…WTF? So now we’re getting a simple numerical progression, culminating in ‘Wi-Fi 6’ to represent 802.11ax. It even has a logo.

“For nearly two decades, wifi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest wifi,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “Wi-Fi Alliance is excited to introduce Wi-Fi 6, and present a new naming scheme to help industry and wifi users easily understand the wifi generation supported by their device or connection.”

You may have noticed that the Telecoms.com house style is to write wifi in its simplest form, that’s because writing ‘Wi-Fi’ all the time is a pain. We call upon the Wi-Fi alliance to stop mucking about with grammar and punctuation, seeing as it’s suddenly so keen on simplifying stuff. Loads of other people felt compelled to say stuff about this move. It’s probably all just generic white noise but it only takes a second to copy and paste so here they are.

 

“Aerohive enthusiastically supports Wi-Fi Alliance’s new consumer-friendly Wi-Fi 6 naming convention in support of the emergence of IEEE’s new 802.11ax technology. Wi-Fi Alliance is now providing consumers the same type of generational Wi-Fi naming conventions to match what cellular technology has done since the beginning. Wi-Fi technology has evolved and improved over the last 21 years – from only a few megabits to several Gigabit speeds – yet this information is currently not provided. With Wi-Fi 6, consumers can easily identify the level of Wi-Fi provided and demand superior services. Additionally, we look forward to Wi-Fi Alliance’s launch of their Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ certification program next year, and will submit our latest generation of Aerohive devices for certification at the first opportunity.” – Perry Correll, product management director, Aerohive Networks

“AirTies commends Wi-Fi Alliance for simplifying Wi-Fi naming conventions and making them more consumer friendly. We look forward to using the term Wi-Fi 6, instead of 802.11ax, and educating our customers about the next-generation of Wi-Fi services and capabilities.” – Metin Taskin, CTO of AirTies 

“Wi-Fi has evolved significantly since Aruba was founded 16 years ago – from its initial role as a secondary network within the enterprise enabling mobility to the mission-critical role it plays today as the primary connectivity method for billions of devices, users, and things. We applaud this effort by Wi-Fi Alliance to simplify the terminology used to differentiate between the different generations of technologies as it will help users more quickly and easily discern the technology their particular device or network supports.” – Lissa Hollinger, Vice President of Portfolio Marketing for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

 “Wi-Fi has revolutionized nearly every aspect of the last two decades, fueling significant social and economic development. As we enter a new generation of connectivity, Wi-Fi isn’t resting on its laurels. We’re packing in new capabilities that deliver blazing fast speeds, high throughput, ultra-low latency, enhanced security and new features like target wake time for a seamless connected experience across a wide range of use cases. Boingo is proud to be part of this generational Wi-Fi launch and work alongside Wi-Fi Alliance to establish programs that further evolve the wireless ecosystem.” – Dr. Derek Peterson, chief technology officer, Boingo Wireless

“Consumers love Wi-Fi – nearly every Internet connected device has it and over 80% of all wireless traffic goes over it. The sixth generation of Wi-Fi – 802.11ax – is the most advanced ever, bringing faster speeds, greater capacity and coverage, and will make the user experience even more enjoyable.  This simple, generational representation will let consumers differentiate phones and wireless routers based on their Wi-Fi capabilities, helping them pick the device that suits their needs best. When they see that their device contains Wi-Fi 6, they will know that they have the best wireless connectivity on the market.”
– Vijay Nagarajan, senior director of marketing for Wireless Communications and Connectivity at Broadcom  

 “CEVA welcomes the introduction of the clear terminology. We have been licensing MAC and Modem IP for many years and across many generations of the technology spanning 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax. The new naming structure gives a simple and consistent framework to boost user awareness, which is especially important now at the dawn of Wi-Fi 6.” – Aviv Malinovitch, GM of the Connectivity BU at CEVA

“Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) is a major advancement that keeps Wi-Fi as the technology of choice for local wireless connectivity for consumers and enterprises. Intel will deliver Wi-Fi 6 solutions for both clients and home infrastructure as part of our continued commitment to improve connectivity and security for the best possible user experiences.” – Eric McLaughlin, General Manager of Wireless Solutions, Client Computing Group at Intel Corp

“Wi-Fi 6, based on 802.11ax technology, will greatly improve the user experience. Real world, dense environments require reliable, secure and consistently excellent download and upload experience. Marvell has worked closely with Wi-Fi Alliance in bringing this technology to market and offers a broad array of products that fully implement Wi-Fi 6, including the technologically and superior upload capabilities.”  – Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager, Wireless Connectivity Business Unit at Marvell Semiconductor

“Wi-Fi Alliance’s mission to connect everyone and everything aligns with MediaTek’s vision to make great technology accessible to everyone. As consumers depend on fast, reliable connectivity to support the growing number of connected devices in their homes, this new terminology will help consumers better understand the latest Wi-Fi technology advancements and make more informed buying decisions for their connectivity needs.” – Finbarr Moynihan, VP of Corporate Sales & Business Development (Americas & Europe) at MediaTek

“NETGEAR welcomes an easy way to highlight for customers what level of Wi-Fi technology they are using. We believe this will help customers better understand and appreciate the generational differences in Wi-Fi technology and usher in the latest 802.11ax standard.” – David Henry, senior vice president of Connected Home Products for NETGEAR

 “Given the central role Wi-Fi plays in delivering connected experiences to hundreds of millions of people every day, and with next generation technologies like 802.11ax emerging, the Wi-Fi Alliance generational naming scheme for Wi-Fi is an intuitive and necessary approach to defining Wi-Fi’s value for our industry and consumers alike. We support this initiative as a global leader in Wi-Fi shipments and deployment of Wi-Fi 6, based on 802.11ax technology, along with customers like Ruckus, Huawei, NewH3C, KDDI Corporation/NEC Platforms, Charter Communications, KT Corp, and many more spanning enterprise, venue, home, mobile and computing segments.” – Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, connectivity and networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

“As one of the first Wi-Fi Alliance members, Ruckus Networks supports the new Wi-Fi Alliance naming scheme. This campaign will help the networking ecosystem better identify the different generations of Wi-Fi technologies in future releases.” – Greg Beach, Vice President of Wireless Products, Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS company.

Liberty Global throws weight behind G.hn standard to bolster wifi game

Liberty Global is the latest telco to join the HomeGrid Forum, having already deployed a G.hn wifi extender solution to improve connectivity in the home.

The wifi extender, which has been deployed in some Liberty Global subsidiaries since 2015 including Telenet in Belgium and Virgin Media in the UK, delivers improved wifi speeds in rooms far away from the residential gateway, with the G.hn standard claiming the praise. In the HomeGrid Forum, Liberty Global is joining dozens of other organizations, including the likes of China Telecom, BT and AT&T.

“Industry collaboration is an important component within the Alliance and Liberty Global are true innovators in investing in and enabling seamless home-networking technology,” said Dr. Len Dauphinee, HomeGrid Forum President. “Liberty Global is a major provider of home networking and we are delighted to welcome them to HomeGrid Forum as we continue to move towards a smart connectivity future.”

“Liberty Global is delighted to be working with HomeGrid Forum and supporting the progress of G.hn technology,” said Peter Joyce, Director of Connectivity CPE Architecture at Liberty Global. “We look forward to working closely with HomeGrid Forum and improving the future of home networking for our customers.”

While wifi has been a consistent part of the connectivity world, it is often overlooked. Frustrations for consumers still persist when it comes to breadth of coverage throughout the home and also weak signal in rooms which are furthest away from the router. This is one of the issues the G.hn standard looks to address.

G.hn is a specification for home networking with data rates up to 2 Gbit/s and operation over four types of legacy wires: telephone wiring, coaxial cables, power lines and plastic optical fiber. A single G.hn semiconductor device is able to network over any of the supported home wire types. Aside from the telcos, the HomeGrid Forum (the non-profit trade group promoting G.hn) also counts the likes of Echostar and Panasonic as members.

FCC Commissioner eyes up 5.9 GHz for next-generation wifi

With yesteryears plan for driverless cars offering zero progress, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has suggested a rethink of how to use the 5.9 GHz band, toying with unlicensed spectrum for next-generation wifi.

Back in 1999, the US government set aside 75 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for dedicated short range communications, DSRC, designed for cars to talk to each other in real time to help reduce accidents. Of the 260 million cars on US roads, only a few thousand are DSRC compatible as autonomous vehicles have moved beyond DSRC to operate and communicate with other vehicles. Some might suggest this initiative has been nothing short of pointless.

Failure is not necessarily a bad thing, but recognising this failure and adapting is critical. This is one of the reasons the internet players are hoovering up cash everywhere. The National Transportation Safety Board estimates it could be up to three decades before the majority of vehicles on the road have DSRC capability, so you have to wonder whether this is a case of flogging a dead horse. Other aspects of the technology world are progressing with genuine ambition, Rosenworcel is suggesting this 75 megahertz of spectrum could be better used elsewhere.

“Earlier this year, it [Congress] asked the FCC to identify 100 megahertz of spectrum below 8 GHz for unlicensed use,” said Rosenworcel. “To meet this threshold, we need to take another look at the 5.9 GHz band.

“It’s the ideal place to explore wifi expansion because it’s adjacent to an existing unlicensed band. That means we have the opportunity to introduce new wideband channels – channels that will be able to take advantage of new standards and deliver speeds even faster than 1 Gbps. In other words, this is where we can develop next generation gigabit wifi.”

Spectrum is an incredibly scarce resource, and there is little room to accommodate technologies and projects which have offer little return. This is the situation the US has found itself in with DSRC. With little to no prospects on the horizon for DSRC to make an impact, you have to wonder how long it can hold onto the precious asset.

This is of course in comparison to wifi. Right now, there are over 9 billion wifi enabled devices, a number possibly increasing by 50 billion by the end of the decade, while nearly 70% of smartphone data is carried over wifi networks. Perhaps even the telcos will support such a move to offer more spectrum for wifi. The telcos are battling against network strain, and more effective wifi could be a means to relieve some of this pressure.

Sometimes decisions are incredibly obvious, and this seems to be one of the cases.

“There is no shame in correcting course,” said Rosenworcel. “And I think it’s time to be ambitious and find a way forward that puts the 5.9 GHz band to fuller use.”

Wireless Broadband Alliance extols the virtues of 802.11ax

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has released a whitepaper promoting the benefits of the latest version of the ugly sibling of the telecommunications world, wifi.

With the world of 5G approaching, wifi enthusiasts have taken the opportunity to pitch relevance for the technology. Despite being often overlooked as a critical component of todays connected world, nearly 70% of smartphone data is carried over wifi networks, covering up for weak cellular signal due to distance from cell sites or weak indoor coverage.

The introduction of the latest generation of wifi technology, 802.11ax, is set to ‘revolutionise’ the industry, according to the WBA, by enabling a new range of opportunities that benefit operators, enterprises and end users. Both as standalone business and facilitating the early delivery of many 5G use cases, the WBA claims 802.11ax will open up the wifi market.

“Investment in 802.11ax offers operators and enterprises a compelling proposition to dramatically accelerate the delivery of 5G use cases, at a much lower cost,” said Tiago Rodrigues, General Manager at the WBA.

“However, it shouldn’t be viewed as ‘just the next evolution in Wi-Fi technology’ that can complement cellular. The WBA has developed this paper as part of its venture to raise awareness of 802.11ax as a standalone technology, providing new capabilities which can be used by the entire industry to address a whole new set of opportunities and use cases.”

Looking at the new features, the WBA believes 802.11ax can solve a number of business challenges operators and enterprises are facing today. Firstly, multi-user MIMO uplink and downlink to increase channel capacity when servicing multiple, simultaneous devices. Another interesting feature is Target Wake Time which would allow IoT devices to sleep to reduce access contention and wakeup in scheduled time slots to improve device battery life. Finally, flexible channel sizes and resource units will allow operators to offer more efficient IoT support, such as connections that require lower data rates.

Wifi is a very important aspect of the connected world, though one which does not receive a significant amount of attention. Some might hope this will change and we transition into the 5G economy, though we suspect it won’t.

Samsung launches mesh-based wifi system in the US

The US arm of Samsung has gone all-in on wifi mesh technology with the launch of the SmartThings System.

The main feature of wifi mesh technology is to fill wifi coverage not-spots around the house. Rather than use multiple routers or powerline networking, which don’t dynamically switch to the strongest source depending on your location, mesh promises strong coverage throughout the home through a number of wifi boosting nodes.

“As more people embrace a connected lifestyle, we’re focused on creating the best experiences so they can get more out of their smart home,” said SK Kim, Senior Director, IoT Product Marketing at Samsung Electronics America. “SmartThings Wifi is an intelligent solution that adapts to the many devices in the home, with mesh capability to eliminate coverage gaps plus a built-in SmartThings Hub to easily monitor and control hundreds of compatible smart products.”

Unsurprisingly the system uses Qualcomm chips integrated by Plume. Samsung goes on at considerable length about how great Plume’s wifi AI is, which actively tinkers with things to make sure everything’s cool. As Qualcomm recently explained to us, this tech also does other cool stuff like being able to detect where you are in the house, which could open the door to all sorts of other smart home applications.

The SmartThings 3-pack retails for $279.99 and the single device retails for $119.99. It’s not yet known when Samsung plans to launch these products globally, but if it manages to flog a few in the US, the rest of the world will presumably follow before long.

Wifi Alliance introduces next WPA security generation

We’ve been securing our wifi connections with WPA2 for far too long, so the Wifi Alliance has introduced certified WPA3 to make things one better.

The Wifi Alliance is one of those organizations, like Qualcomm and Intel, that seems really hung up on legal protection, so it’s WPA3™ and even the word wifi seems to be a registered trade mark, although maybe that’s only when it’s written this way – Wi-Fi® – which is another good reason not to muck about with capital letters and hyphens.

So, just to be clear, all this stuff belongs to the Wifi Alliance®™@#*FFS OK? It’s a non-profit sponsored by most of the usual tech sector suspects and is an important hub for wifi quality control. WPA2 (wifi protected access) was introduced all the way back in 2004 to address security flaws in WEP, so it seems like a refresh is overdue. The big change seems to be a forking of WPA in consumer and business directions, as described in the announcement.

  • WPA3-Personal: more resilient, password-based authentication even when users choose passwords that fall short of typical complexity recommendations. WPA3 leverages Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), a secure key establishment protocol between devices, to provide stronger protections for users against password guessing attempts by third parties.
  • WPA3-Enterprise: offers the equivalent of 192-bit cryptographic strength, providing additional protections for networks transmitting sensitive data, such as government or finance. The 192-bit security suite ensures a consistent combination of cryptographic tools are deployed across WPA3 networks.

“WPA3 takes the lead in providing the industry’s strongest protections in the ever-changing security landscape,” said Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO of the Wifi Alliance®™@#*FFS. “WPA3 continues the evolution of wifi security and maintains the brand promise of Wifi Protected Access.”

As is so often the way when cross-industry non-profits make an announcement, everyone involved has to have their own canned quote or they feel all left out, so here are the rest of them:

“2018 is a transformative year for Wi-Fi with new standards being published such as WPA3, which is the latest evolution of Wi-Fi Protected Access, taking security to a level of robustness and resiliency not seen before. Coupling WPA3 with the promise of 802.11ax’s efficiency will allow Wi-Fi to reach levels of security and performance unimaginable only a few years ago.” – Alan Amrod, SVP & GM, Products & Marketing, Aerohive Networks

“Security has always been a key component of Wi-Fi’s broad appeal and Wi-Fi Alliance’s certifications. Ruckus is in full support of continuing to evolve the certification of security standards to meet potential new threats. We are actively developing new software to take full advantage of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3 for the benefit of our customers and their millions of end users around the world.” – said Mark Hamilton, Principal Networking Standards Engineer, Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS Company

“As Wi-Fi evolves to deliver more value in an ever expanding array of use cases, it’s important that security evolves too. WPA3’s new features, such as improved password based authentication and stronger encryption, will further simplify and strengthen how consumers and businesses connect to the Internet every day.” – Vijay Nagarajan, senior director of marketing for Wireless Communications and Connectivity division at Broadcom

“Cisco is in full support of Wi-Fi Alliance’s continual focus on security evolution to WPA3. The WPA3 program will bring much needed upgrades to wireless security protecting all levels of customers from consumer to enterprise/government. Cisco is committed to integrating WPA3 features into our Aironet Access Points and Wireless Controllers via a firmware upgrade so that our existing and new customers can take advantage of the capabilities offered by WPA3.” – Greg Dorai, Vice President Cisco WLAN, Cisco

“WPA3 and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Enhanced Open provide a comprehensive security offering without added complexity. With WPA3, users will receive better experiences with passwords that are easier to remember and manage, and IT will be able to ensure consistent and strong cryptography throughout their infrastructure. Aruba has already begun to incorporate and certify WPA3 for future designs to ensure the most advanced protection for our customer’s data.” – Dan Harkins, Distinguished Technologist, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Company

 “WPA3 is another milestone for the Wi-Fi industry, the extreme high throughput and enhanced security delivered by Wi-Fi will provide an excellent end-user experience in both consumer and enterprise markets. We are pleased to see Wi-Fi to continue to enable the digital transformation in many sectors and businesses.” – Dr. Wen Tong, Huawei Fellow, CTO, Huawei Wireless

“WPA3 brings critical updates to Wi-Fi security for personal and enterprise networks. Intel supports WPA3 and through our involvement in the test bed, we are helping our customers incorporate WPA3 into their products for enhanced security protections.” – Eric Mclaughlin – GM, CCG Wireless, Intel

 “Marvell has worked in close cooperation with Wi-Fi Alliance on Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WPA3 and Wi-Fi Easy Connect.  WPA3 builds on the widespread adoption of WPA2 and delivers a high level of security for both personal and enterprise Wi-Fi networks. We support these latest programs as together they provide strong protection against security threats while also enhancing the connectivity user experience for our customers.” – Mark Montierth, VP and GM of the Wireless Connectivity Business Unit at Marvell

“Hospitals are keenly aware of the critical importance of data privacy and security, and maintaining a robust security policy means accessing the strongest security measures available. Philips applauds Wi-Fi Alliance for building upon the success of WPA2 with the latest security mechanisms now available in WPA3.” – Phil Raymond, Director, Wireless CoE, MA&TC CTO Office, Philips Healthtech

“Qualcomm Technologies is committed to safeguarding the trust that millions of users and businesses put in Wi-Fi every day. We are proud to be among the first companies to support WPA3 across our portfolio of mobile and networking infrastructure products, and we are working closely with Wi-Fi Alliance and key stakeholders to accelerate its adoption throughout all major industries and ecosystems that rely on Wi-Fi.” – said Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager, connectivity and networking, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.

“Silicon Motion proudly supports the industry transition to WPA3.  Our new low power Wi-Fi SoC, built for IoT applications, supports both the mandatory and optional elements of WPA3 so that our customers can enable the highest level of security possible for their Wi-Fi and low power IoT applications.”  – David Cohen, Sr. Marketing Director, Silicon Motion, Inc.

Will you grow an extra ear from too much Snapchatting?

This week Telecoms.com has 16 year-old Shannon O’Connor joining the team for work experience, and today she looks at the potential for damage of radio frequency radiation on society. Here are her thoughts.

Telecommunications has been evolving significantly in recent years. With an increased pressure for increased connectivity in major cities, many people in the suburbs and poverty stricken areas are at risk of being left behind. However, it can said that the major issue surrounding wifi, and wireless on the whole, progress is the lack of care being taken to support the healthcare of society’s vulnerable.

The US National Toxicology Program tested on lab rats and mice to find what affects radio frequency (RF) energy used in cell phones could have on individuals in the long term. The lab animals were exposed for approximately to 2G and 3G frequencies nine hours a day, starting before birth and continuing for up to two years on large groups of rats and mice.

A draft of the final results was published in February 2018. It showed that an increased risk of ‘malignant schwannomas’ (rare heart tumours) was found in the male rats open to RF radiation. Interestingly, the majority of exposed male rats lived longer than rats who were not open to RF radiation. While these are shocking results, the two conflicting statements call the validity of the research into question. What results like these could mean for people is questionable, but there clearly is an impact on the health of living organisms.

When speaking to Tiago Rodrigues, (General Manager) from the Wireless Broadband Alliance earlier this week, questions began to arise from the innovations suggested by the company in exposing a larger amount of people to wifi radiation signals. He began to explain the larger concept of the company’s work but failed to mention the safety checks carried out.

In response to questions regarding the impact of RF radiation on people, Rodrigues stated the organization had not done any specific research and was not on the charter of the Alliance. On a personal note, he suggested that the industry needed some common level of agreement on assessing the radiation impacts. A concise and collaborative approach needed to be taken as there were no consistency in the way results were actually developed.

It has become apparent through speaking to Rodrigues and taking up further research into this matter that someone needs to take the lead and a conclusive decision needs to be made in standardizing how to measure the health risks attached to radiation from our networking devices.

While there does seem to be some concerns regarding the health impact today, with 5G on the horizon, the number of cell towers is certainly going to increase. In Germany for example, Deutsche Telekom’s CFO Thomas Dannenfeldt has suggested the number of towers could increase to 50,000 from 28,000 today. And this is just DT’s towers, what about the other German companies?

There is an increased need for answers, perhaps something which the World Health Organisation, European Commission or the United Nations could kick start? These conclusive tests could finally provide an explanation as to how this may impact those in the future such as myself.