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

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

4G in Paris at sunrise

Prasit photo / Getty Images

This article is here primarily for archival purposes. 4G is currently the most common standard with 5G emerging. The same concerns raised here do not directly 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.

There was a time when 3G mobile networks were most sought-after by mobile users. But that has now given way to the much more advanced, 4G LTE network. Tremendously powerful and featuring faster bandwidth, this network provides lightning-fast service to mobile Internet users. However, just like everything else, this is also not without its downsides. The latest allegation is that the fourth-generation technology is several times more of a health hazard than any of its predecessors.

Activists have been reiterating for many years that cellphone towers and the use of smartphone and mobile Internet could pose a serious threat to our health and wellness. According to them, mobile phone companies and carriers are well aware of the potential pitfalls the latest technology poses, but are keeping silent due to fear of hurting their own profit margins. Instead, they merely highlight the great advantages these gadgets would be able to bestow on our lives and the conveniences they offer.

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

More Exposure to Radiation?

3G
  • Lower bandwidth means less data transmitted.

  • The less data transmitted, the less need there is for a stronger signal.

  • A stronger signal would, theoretically increase 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 had just entered the market, they were predominantly used to make calls while on the move and type out text messages. But all that changed in just a few years’ time. While 3G made it possible to browse the Internet on mobile devices, the following generation - 4G – has made it possible for users to stream rich media content right on their smartphones and tablets.

While this obviously 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 more high-power towers have to be erected and networked with each other. This is believed to emit much more radiation than before, which could, in turn, cause severe health issues at a later time.

Series of Antennae

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.

In order to make the latest handsets capable of receiving the full bandwidth power of 4G networks, smartphone manufacturers are equipping them with a series of antennae in one handset. According to health experts, his further intensifies the risks of being exposed to more radiation; hence increasing the possibility of carcinogenic and other attacks.

Reported Issues Caused by Cellphone Towers

Though no conclusive evidence has been drawn up as yet, several people living or working long hours in the vicinity of cellphone towers have complained about the sudden emergence of mysterious headaches, attacks of nausea, blurry vision and even a variety of tumors. Physicians studying these cases have noticed that these numbers have been on the rise over the past few years, with just the regular 3G and Wi-Fi networks and could potentially get much 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 being 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 own 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; also firmly stating that their network strictly adheres to all international safety standards.

Furthermore, many carriers are of the view that erecting fewer cellphone towers would actually prove to be counterproductive, as they would only result in increasing 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 actually prove to be much more dangerous in the long run.

In Conclusion

3G
  • Lower bandwidth.

  • Less speed.

  • Potentially less radiation.

4G
  • More bandwidth.

  • Greater speed.

  • Potential for greater radiation.

Advancing technology is always both a boon and bane - the case is no different with mobile networking. While 4G bestows many more conveniences on us than 3G ever could, it comes with arguably dangerous health issues as well. In any case, with no conclusive medical evidence to prove anything at all, we continue to wait and watch as the battle rages on.