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Belgians struggle to distinguish between truth and fiction in 5G debate, study claims
According to the annual ConsumerLab study commissioned by Swedish telecoms giant Ericsson, to be released on Tuesday, Belgians are ill-informed and overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to them in relation to 5G.
The study shows that nearly six out of 10 respondents (58%) have admitted to an inability to distinguish between true and false when it comes to the information they receive on this sometimes sensitive societal issue.
According to Ericsson, who surveyed 1,000 smartphone users aged 15 to 69 last July, representing the opinion of 5.6 million Belgian consumers, Belgian citizens seem to lack access to quality information about 5G.
Seven out of 10 respondents expect to be better informed about the benefits of 5G. They consider technology specialists to be the most reliable source of information (36%), ahead of mobile operators (35%) and health authorities and experts (31%). Journalists are credited with only a score of 14% while 50% of the Belgian population admits to having formed their own opinion on the subject based on information collected on social networks and on Youtube.
"From the emergence of coronavirus to the deterioration of health or the environment, 5G has been associated with a multitude of 'fake news' stories," says Rémi de Montgolfier, director of Ericsson Belux.
According to Rémi de Montgolfier, these "unfounded myths" have overshadowed 5G and failed to highlight the benefits that consumers and industry could derive from it. "We let social media do the job and, let's be honest, it wasn't a good solution," he said. "First and foremost, we need a clear signal of the policy in its favour," he argues. "That's what we're missing today. 5G has indeed become a political debate."
The dissemination of information on 5G must be promoted in the same way as the government did in Luxembourg, says Rémi de Mongtolfier. He is concerned that Ericsson, who recently replaced Huawei as the chosen operator of 5G in Belgium, will not see a commercial launch of the technology until the end of 2022, or even 2023, which would put Belgium at the back of the European queue. "It is hoped that the federal government will understand the urgency of the situation and unblock it."
According to the survey, as many as half a million consumers could adopt 5G within three to six months of its commercial launch.