The Slovenia Times

Concerns about 5G legitimate, says minister


Speaking to reporters after a protest against the introduction of the 5th generation wireless technology, Medved said the ministry was planning a debate this month to discuss its impact.

The ministry expects broad attendance and "a clash of all opinions".

"I'm aware we won't find a conclusive answer, as there hasn't been one globally. 5G technology hasn't been established in practice to an extent that studies could produce results based on which we could say conclusively that 5G is completely harmless."

However, the minister said that 5G was definitely a technology of the future and that it would be unacceptable for Slovenia to remain an "isolated island" without the technology.

Medved criticised the management of the Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS), which the agency's council has found has not given sufficient attention to G5's potential impact on health.

The agency has drawn up a strategy for distribution of G5 spectrum frequencies, which has been removed from the government agenda.

Medved said the agency had been working on the strategy longer than expected. "At the last moment there was so much criticism of the document, we removed it from the agenda to allow for further reflection."

The minister also berated those who failed to contribute remarks in the public consultation, "while now ideas are popping up about interdepartmental task forces which are supposed to enter recommendations or restrictions into the strategy".

The criticism was in response to AKOS proposing a task force that would include representatives of the ministries of health, environment and public administration at least.

Luka Dekleva, the head of the AKOS council, said the council proposed measures relevant to the impact of 5G on health last summer, but the management followed the proposals "only partly".

As a result, the strategy does not take health aspects of 5G into consideration enough. "We believe the agency's leadership should assume a more proactive role to clear up health aspects as much as possible."

AKOS reacted in a press release saying that the ministry had not raised any issues about health concerns, adding that the agency had asked for guidelines as soon as it was tasked with drafting the 5G strategy in mid-2017.

The agency said it took into account strategic documents of Slovenia and the EU. It sent the first version of the strategy to the ministry in May 2018; in March 2019 it received new guidelines from the ministry.

None of the documents the agency received from the ministry mentioned any health concerns and neither did any of the responses AKOS received during the three public consultations carried out since the agency first started drafting the strategy.

Moreover, the agency does not employ experts in the field and asking it to assess health risks of 5G would be forcing it to overstep its legal powers.

AKOS also said that the minister had not met AKOS director Tanja Muha despite the agency's requests for a meeting. This, according to AKOS, is hampering cooperation between the ministry and the agency.

The EU-wide deadline to allow effective use of the 700 MHz band for wireless broadband under harmonised technical conditions is 30 June 2020.

"However, member states cannot implement that throughout their entire territory unless neighbouring countries do that as well," Public Administration Ministry State Secretary Leon Behin said.

In Slovenia, the 700 Mhz band "is more or less cleared", while Croatia, Italy and Hungary have indicated they will not be able to secure the frequencies by the deadline.

Therefore, the Infrastructure Ministry will notify the European Commission that Slovenia is unlikely to be able to secure the use of the frequencies by 30 June.

The operators acquiring the frequencies will not necessarily establish 5G technology. "The technology registered in the application granted the frequency may be 4G or some other technology," said Behin.


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