As 5G accelerates towards the mainstream, and with many stories on 5G and health appearing around the internet, we have updated our 5G and electromagnetic energy (EME) information to bring you an extensive 5G FAQ answering the common questions we have received.

Many of the conversations revolve around the significant benefits of 5G for Australians and how the technology works. In 2018, in conjunction with Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) we launched 5G Explained, covering all the fundamentals of 5G.

Australians have also been asking what the EME levels from 5G will be – and are they safe? What happens when 5G is added to all the existing EME from other mobile technologies?

Answering your questions on 5G

To answer these exact questions, we have been conducting extensive EME testing on all of our mobile technologies – including both the 5G trial network and the new commercial network.

In 2018 we conducted extensive EME testing and analysis on the 5G trial network at Southport on the Gold Coast, and also commenced EME testing on the new 3.5GHz commercial base stations. The test results show EME levels are similar to the existing mobile technologies, and well below the EME safety limits.

As an example, we conducted EME testing on the streets of Southport in the busy pedestrian mall which is close to three mobile base stations and our 5G trial site at the Southport Exchange.

The maximum EME level we measured from all mobile, radio and TV broadcast services was more than 500 times below the safety limits. This is typical of what you would find in many communities.

Further north at Musgrave Hill, we tested the EME levels opposite a new 5G base station and the maximum EME level (again at busy times during the day) was more than 700 times below the safety limits.

To test the EME levels on 5G, we had the eSports gaming trial running and loaded up the 5G network with a special test device downloading data to simulate high traffic loads. In November 2018 we presented a summary of the 5G EME testing results to the Science and Wireless Conference, held by the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR) – the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence. We rely on their research material for conducting our health assessments.

The presentation is available online here.

In terms of 5G and health, scientific experts from the ACEBR have also published a new 5G Wireless Technology Fact Sheet covering the latest on EME research and safety. A key question they cover is:

What do we know about 5G and health?

Extensive research has been conducted on the 5G frequencies soon to be introduced, including specifically on mobile phone applications. For future 5G frequencies, there has been extensive research on other applications using these frequencies (for example, radar and military applications) which have been using these frequencies for many decades at power levels far higher than those used in mobile telecommunications. No indication of any health impacts from exposures at the intensities related to mobile communications have been observed. (ACEBR Wireless technologies fact sheet 2018)

With so much information on EME and health available online it’s completely understandable when people say ‘we just don’t know who to believe’.

This is why at Telstra we rely on the expert advice of a number of national and international health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Commission for Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for overall assessments relating to health and safety.

We make sure all of our base stations, including the 5G base stations, are designed to ensure they comply with the stringent EME safety standards, and we publish the compliance certificates and EME reports for each base station on the Radiofrequency National Site Archive.

We are continuing the 5G EME testing program throughout 2019, and will publish updates during the year.