The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts has commenced a parliament-first inquiry into 5G network technology.
The announcement follows months of public outcry from concerned citizens and community action groups over the rollout of 5G in Australia.
5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile technology, in line with the International Mobile Telecommunications-2020 (IMT-2020) Standard of the International Telecommunications Union and the associated releases of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
According to the official page, the committee will conduct research to:
- Investigate the capability, capacity and deployment of 5G;
- Understand the application of 5G, including use cases for enterprise and government.
Chairing the reviewing committee is Nationals MP Dr David Gillespie, alongside Deputy Chair, Labor MP Ed Husic and six committee members.
Interestingly, matters relating to national security are out of scope for this national inquiry.
In a media release, Dr Gillespie said “5G will transform the way we live and work, and provide opportunities for family life, industry and commerce” and the committee “want to hear about the opportunities and challenges of 5G”.
However, no date has been set for the committee to report back to the public.
The Australian government is also yet to formally respond to the announcement.
GOVERNMENT ON THE ROPES
Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, has assured Telstra that it is “backing high-speed 5G mobile network rollout plans” amid signs of a community backlash against the technology.
The government has promised a ‘stronger public stance’ over the technology’s safety.
Fletcher, who has been exposed as a former Director of telecommunications giant Optus, has met with executives for a demonstration of the high-speed 5G mobile networks several weeks ago, as the $42.6 billion telco continues to build the new infrastructure across the country.
A spokesman for Mr Fletcher declined to comment on the minister’s meeting with Telstra but said “the agency played an important role in providing authoritative advice to government and the community on matters of electromagnetic energy safety”.
This comes as growing groups of concerned citizens ramp up a campaign, which includes protests, council complaints, online petitions and flyers, against 5G technology and electromagnetic energy (EME) and radiation.
These national community action groups have formed to share information relating to 5G and to take action by hosting local events to connect with like-minded citizens.
The groups have staged protests in recent months across the country and have scheduled a number of protests and forums to oppose the rollout.
The government has been criticised for acting in the interests of telcos by some anti-5G groups, who are concerned the technology could lead to infertility and cancers.