3G vs. 4G Mobile Networks: The Health Factor

Are 4G LTE mobile networks more of a health hazard?

This article is retained for archival purposes. 4G is currently the common standard with 5G emerging. The same concerns raised here do not apply to the transition from 4G to 5G. 5G employs a different wavelength transmitted from a larger number of small stations that transmit to a smaller radius than 4G.

Activists have been reiterating for many years that cellphone towers and the use of smartphone and mobile internet could pose a threat to health and wellness. According to them, mobile phone companies and carriers are aware of the potential pitfalls the latest technology possesses but keep silent to not hurt profit margins. Instead, they highlight the advantages and conveniences these gadgets bring to our lives.

Is this accusation true? Are mobile users using the latest technology at the cost of their health? In this article, we bring you an analysis of 3G vs. 4G mobile networks, from the health point of view.

3G vs 4G
Lifewire

Overall Findings

3G
  • Lower bandwidth.

  • Less speed.

  • Potentially less radiation.

4G
  • More bandwidth.

  • Greater speed.

  • Potential for greater radiation.

There was a time when 3G mobile networks were sought-after by mobile users. But that has given way to the more advanced, 4G LTE network. Tremendously powerful and featuring faster bandwidth, this network provides lightning-fast service to mobile internet users.

However, this has downsides. The latest allegation is that the fourth-generation technology is several times more of a health hazard than its predecessors. There are no definitive answers, but the potential for risk is there.

Radiation Exposure: Nothing's Conclusive, But 4G Has a Greater Risk

3G
  • Lower bandwidth means less data transmitted.

  • When less data is transmitted, there's less need for a stronger signal.

  • A stronger signal, theoretically, increases radiation.

4G
  • Stronger signal with more data transmitted.

  • Stronger signal may equate to more radiation.

  • Greater range could equate to more radiation over a wider area.

When cellphones entered the market, these devices were used to make calls while on the move and type text messages. But that changed in a few years' time. 3G made it possible to browse the internet on mobile devices. The next generation, 4G, made it possible for users to stream rich media content on smartphones and tablets.

This is beneficial for people who are in transit most of the time. The negative side is that this technology uses more bandwidth than 2G or 3G networks, which also means, more exposure to radiation. For 4G to work efficiently, several high-power towers have to be erected and networked with each other. This is believed to emit more radiation than before, which could, in turn, cause severe health issues at a later time.

Series of Antennae: 4G Has More

3G
  • Simpler connection.

  • Fewer antennae required.

4G
  • More antennae needed.

  • More antennae means more signal and more radiation.

  • Some devices come with both 3G and 4G antennae.

To make the latest handsets able to receive the full bandwidth power of 4G networks, smartphone manufacturers equip these devices with a series of antennae in one handset. According to health experts, this intensifies the risks of being exposed to more radiation, hence increasing the possibility of carcinogenic and other attacks.

Reported Issues: Both Have Problems, but 4G is Worse

3G
  • Still some evidence of risk.

  • Environmental issues reported.

4G
  • Potential for greater health risk.

  • Potential for more environmental impact.

Though no conclusive evidence has been drawn up, several people living or working long hours in the vicinity of cellphone towers have complained about the sudden emergence of headaches, nausea, blurry vision, and tumors. Physicians studying these cases noticed that these numbers have been on the rise over the past few years, with only the regular 3G and Wi-Fi networks and could potentially get worse with the proliferation of 4G towers.

It's also important to note that a series of environmental issues are also reportedly linked to the increased radiation. Most notably, colony collapse in the bee population is sometimes blamed on radiation disrupting the internal navigation systems in bees.

What Mobile Carriers Have to Say

Leading mobile carriers, which provide 4G LTE networks, are quick to speak up in their defense. Pointing out that there is no concrete medical evidence to prove that the existence of cellular stations are hazardous, they claim to have undertaken long trials prior to offering the technology. They also state that their networks adhere to international safety standards.

Many carriers are of the view that erecting fewer cellphone towers would be counterproductive, as these towers would increase the radiation which users are exposed to. Reducing the number of towers would weaken signals, which would result in each station emitting higher output, which could be more dangerous in the long run.

Final Verdict

Advancing technology is always both a boon and a bane. The case is no different with mobile networking. While 4G has more conveniences than 3G provides, it comes with arguably dangerous health issues as well. In any case, with no conclusive medical evidence to prove anything, we continue to wait and watch as the battle goes on.