France on Wednesday launched the fifth generation, or 5G, of mobile networks, with the first activation of frequencies going live for users who had signed up for its use.

The service is limited to areas where companies have set up 500 antennae used in test phases and only in nine of France’s major cities, according to local daily RFI.

5G has been widely anticipated, as well as touted as a technology that will further the fight against climate change.

In a statement on their website, CEO of American-based mobile carrier Verizon Hans Vestberg said: “5G has the potential to reduce up to 90% of our current power consumption” detailing that more efficient use of the electrical grid would go on to support using clean and renewable energy.

In a statement to RFI, Orange CEO Stephane Richard realized the adoption of the network for users will be slow going.

”They will not attain great numbers this winter. It’s a topic for 2021, especially in the second half,” he said.

Orange is one of France’s largest telecom providers, along with Bouyges, SFR, and Free Mobile. Only Orange and Bouyges have 5G mobile plans available for consumers at present, collectively paying €3 billion ($3.56 billion) to buy the frequencies.

French regulators stipulate that by 2022 each operator must set up 3,000 transmission towers, expanding to 8,000 towers two years later, and a total of 10,000 by the year 2025.

The new technology has garnered its share of controversy over one’s health. 5G uses millimeter electromagnetic waves, also known as extremely high frequency waves, a much higher level along the electromagnetic spectrum than on 4G or 3G.

Numerous articles have debunked the theory that these waves cause harm to the human body, such as an April 2020 report in online platform DigitalTrends that cites the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as having “not formally classified RF as cancer-causing.”

DigitalTrends also reported that in 2014, the WHO established no adverse health effects for mobile phone use, but categorized 5G frequency, along with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), as “possibly carcinogenic” given inconclusive evidence.

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