Protest as debate held on 5G frequency auctions


The debate, hosted by the Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS), was meant to bring operators up to date on the activities related to the auctions.

"In line with EU guidelines, the Slovenian government last year committed to award the frequencies by 30 June this year. Thus 5G is coming, but the question is in what way and how fast," AKOS director Tanja Muha said.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Muha said the awarding of 5G frequencies would not yet launch the network because operators would need between three and five years to put in place such a network.

Deployment of the fifth generation wireless technology worldwide has been accompanied by concerns about alleged harmful effects and security risks involved.

AKOS does not have the power to assess 5G's potential impact on health, but Muha said it suggested the Public Administration Ministry as the department in charge of new technologies to appoint a interdepartmental task force that would also include the departments of health and environment.

"Another thing the agency can do under valid legislation is to specify restrictions for individual telecommunication services technologies in the general act on the use of the frequency spectrum, should that prove necessary from the aspect of protecting people's health," said Muha.

In that case AKOS would first have to acquire the Health Ministry's opinion, which it sought in October 2019. "Talks are under way, but we're yet to receive a final answer."

In an attempt to direct attention to negative aspects of the new technology, a protest was held outside the AKOS headquarters by the Movement for Human Friendly Technology.

The movement's representative Gregor Kos said the rally was meant to show how many people opposed the introduction of 5G in Slovenia.

"The environment protection act sets out clearly the caution principle which provides not to implement technologies that haven't been fully proved," said Kos.

According to him, Slovenia is the only country in Europe that has not had a public presentation of 5G technology yet.

The movement is planning to table a bill in late January to impose a moratorium on 5G.

"We'll demand delaying the technology's introduction for two years, during which time independent scientific studies and experiences of the countries already introducing 5G be examined," said Kos.

Muha said that AKOS understood the protesters' concerns, so it invited them for a meeting to acquaint them about the agency's responsibilities.