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Why is Strasbourg the first large green city to adopt 5G?


The debate on 5G is undoubtedly far from over, but here is a symbolic advance: Orange on Tuesday turned on its antennas broadcasting the new mobile network in the metropolis of Strasbourg. It is the first large city held by Europe Écologie-Les Verts to be covered, at least partially, in 5G. Elected environmentalists, as well as certain left-wing coalitions, are in fact reserved on the deployment of antennas and lead local consultations almost everywhere pending the publication of the report of the National Health Security Agency (ANSES) on the effects of 5G waves on health and the environment.

Caution of individuals, interests of professionals

There was indeed a citizen consultation process in Strasbourg, completed in two months. From the beginning of December to the end of January, round tables and participatory workshops brought together local elected officials, experts and inhabitants of the metropolis to discuss the environmental challenges of 5G, the interest in economic competitiveness or the subject of exposure to waves. “The objective was to disentangle the true from the false, the fantasies and the concerns. The debates were very serene, everyone could express themselves”, explains Caroline Zorn, vice-president of the Eurometropolis of Strasbourg, in charge of digital .

The conclusions of the consultation will be made public at the end of February and the main lesson is the citizens’ reserve vis-à-vis 5G. “We noticed a big difference in expectation between private and industrial uses,” says Caroline Zorn. “There was not a great runaway for individuals, people expressed rather the wish to be connected to the fiber. On the other hand, for the professionals, we established that there were undoubtedly many possible applications that ‘it will now be necessary to invent. “

About fifteen large cities already covered in 5G

In the absence of frank opposition from citizens and in agreement with elected officials, Orange is therefore the first operator to have switched on its 5G antennas in Strasbourg. The others will follow quickly. The only constraint, requested by the metropolis: no antenna within 100 meters of nurseries, schools and hospitals. For Orange CEO Stéphane Richard, this is already a good start. “I believe that this debate is calming down, becoming more objective too. There are still some deadlocked situations but I am confident, optimistic and certain that common sense will eventually prevail everywhere”, s’ is he delighted at the microphone of Europe 1.

Strasbourg thus joins the list of large cities already covered in 5G by at least one operator: Marseille, Nice, Toulouse, Montpellier, Brest, Angers, Saint-Étienne, Le Mans, Mulhouse, Pau, Rouen, Le Havre, Valenciennes or even Clermont -Ferrand. While waiting for new openings in the coming months. “We have a whole development schedule in 2021. We will light up cities one after the other, in accordance with the agenda set by elected officials. Where we have been asked to wait a bit, in particular to respect local consultation mechanisms, we do it “, assures Stéphane Richard.

Each operator advances at their own pace on 5G

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If the deployment of 5G is progressing, the current situation is sometimes convoluted, as in the regions of Lille and Paris where several municipalities in the agglomeration are covered by 5G, but not the cities themselves. In this kind of situation, operators do not sit back and wait for the end of local consultations. In Paris, for example, 5G antennas have been deployed since December. Simply, they are off and will not be on until the municipality gives the green light. In the case of the capital, the boss of Orange said he was confident about a start “from the end of the first quarter of 2021”.

© 5G coverage of each operator / Arcep

In total, 8,675 5G antennas were activated on December 31, the date of the last check-in from Arcep, the telecoms regulator, two-thirds of which at Free. The operator has opted for massive deployment by using the 700 MHz bands, already used for 4G and less powerful than the 3.5 GHz frequencies, dedicated primarily to 5G. A strategy that differs from that of Bouygues and SFR (which use the 2.1 GHz band, a sort of in-between) as well as that of Orange (which is the operator that has deployed the fewest antennas but mainly in 3.5 GHz). As a result, there are today as many different 5Gs as there are operators. At the risk of losing consumers.

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