5 things you should know about 5G and EME
Posted on June 7, 2019
4 min read
Telstra is at the forefront of 5G in Australia, with our nationwide roll-out of 5G already in all major Australian cities and expanding to more cities, regional centres and high traffic areas in 2019 and beyond. Part of our work, with our partners across government and the telecommunications industry, is to educate Australians on 5G and EME and answer your questions.
What is 5G?
5G is the fifth generation of mobile network technology, following 2G, 3G and 4G. It has the potential to offer super-fast connections and response times and more capacity than previous generations, and is designed to meet the needs of the large growth in demand for data and connectivity from our customers and businesses.
5G works in conjunction with existing mobile technologies like 4G.
Is 5G safe?
We are confident 5G adds no risk compared to existing technologies.
We rely on the expert advice of both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for overall assessments of health and safety impacts. The WHO and ARPANSA advise that there is no substantiated scientific evidence that radiofrequency technologies that operate within national and international safety standards cause health effects.
The advice from WHO is that ‘there is no evidence that exposure to low level EME is harmful to human health”.
The frequencies and power levels we are using today for 5G are similar to 3G and 4G. Over 50 years of scientific research has already been conducted into the possible health effects of the radio signals used for mobile phones, base stations and other wireless services, including the frequency bands now being redeployed for 5G. The existing safety standards for EME set by the Australian Health Department cover 5G, include children and are conservative.
All of our research has found 5G EME levels to be similar to 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi. The EME levels measured were found to be well below the safety limits, and in many cases over a thousand times lower.
What testing has Telstra done in relation to 5G?
We have done extensive EME testing on our 5G network, including testing on both our trial 5G network and the 5G network that we have already begun to roll out around Australia. The EME levels measured were found to be well below the safety limits, and in many cases over a thousand times lower.
We continually monitor our network (including EME levels), and the ACMA conducts audits to check compliance with the EME safety standards.
What does the government say about 5G and EME?
ARPANSA, the agency of the Commonwealth Government tasked with protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation, says that “there is no established health effects from the radio waves that the 5G network uses”.
The agency also notes that some anti-5G campaigns are generating “unfounded fear and concern” and spreading misinformation within the community.
ARPANSA also addresses anecdotes of health problems that some individuals believe may be attributed to exposure to radio waves. “ARPANSA and the World Health Organization (WHO) are not aware of any well-conducted scientific investigations where health symptoms were confirmed as a result of radio wave exposure in the everyday environment.” It goes on to say that “there is a lack of evidence that exposure to radio waves is the cause” of these health problems.
What is mmWave and is it safe?
mmWave, or millimetre wave, is a portion of the radiofrequency spectrum between 30GHz and 300GHz.
mmWave is not new – it is already used in Australia for wireless services like fixed point-to-point communications infrastructure and satellite internet, including through the NBN’s Sky Muster satellite service. The existing EME safety standards and extensive research to date includes mmWave.
Telstra’s 5G technology does not currently use mmWave frequencies, however we plan to use mmWave in the future when spectrum becomes available.
Telstra’s mmWave 5G trials showed EME levels were very low and similar to existing technologies.