Switzerland was among the first countries to begin deploying 5G, but health fears over radiation from the antennas that carry the next-generation mobile technology have sparked a nationwide revolt.
Demonstrators against the technology are due to fill the streets of Bern later this month, but already a number of cantons have been pressured to put planned constructions of 5G-compatible antennae on ice.
The technology has been swept up in the deepening trade war between China and the United States, which has tried to rein in Chinese giant Huawei — the world’s leader in superfast 5G equipment — over fears it will allow Beijing to spy on communications from countries that use its products and services.
But far from the clash of the titans, a growing number of Swiss are voicing alarm at possible health effects from exposure to the electromagnetic rays radiating from the new antennae, and are threatening to put the issue to a referendum in the country famous for its direct democratic system.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
In February, Switzerland took a big step towards deployment when it attributed 5G frequencies to three major operators, Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt, allowing the country to rake in revenues of nearly 380 million Swiss francs ($384 million, 350 million euros).
High on their success, the operators raced to trumpet on television advertisements and billboards that the cutting-edge technology would be available this year in cities, in the countryside and even in mountainous regions. READ MORE…