5G | Network | Tech and Innovation |

5G vs. 50 devices: Testing our 5G network and EME in a ‘smart apartment’

By Mike Wood December 23, 2020

There’s been a lot of buzz around 5G this year. You might have also read a few other not so accurate facts around 5G. We thought we’d put it all to the test again to show you the facts about 5G and electromagnetic energy (EME) in a very high-tech connected home.

If you don’t know what EME is, it stands for ‘electromagnetic energy’. It occurs naturally in our everyday lives – the Sun and the Earth itself, for example, both emit EME. The electromagnetic spectrum enables technologies like radio communications, Wi-Fi and television. The vast majority of EME is low level and all consumer devices are tested for compliance, with safety limits set in Australia by an independent body called ARPANSA.

We wanted to answer two main questions doing with this testing: how hard can you push the data speeds on our 5G network, and what sort of EME levels are created by doing this?

Our 5G ‘smart apartment’ on the Gold Coast

To answer these questions, we set up a 5G and Wi-Fi-connected smart apartment on the Gold Coast with over 50 connected devices, then invited a family with teenagers and their friends to stay over a long weekend to access high-speed unlimited internet and data over 5G.

The teenagers thought Christmas had come early and eagerly took up the challenge to use as many devices as possible over the weekend – when their friends arrived for a Saturday dinner party the next big challenge was to ‘max out the network’ playing games, streaming in 4K and downloading big files, all at the same time. (Something the eldest boy was very excited to put to the test!)

Overall, the EME levels from 5G, 4G and Wi-Fi in a smart apartment with over 50 connected devices were all very low, even under high utilisation when being ‘maxed out’ – the EME results measured were more than 10,000 times below the public safety limits. As a point of comparison, we measured higher EME levels from the local FM and TV broadcasts, and also from a baby monitor in the bedroom.

(TV & FM = 9000 times below the public safety limit, baby monitor = 123 times below the public safety limit)

How we set up the apartment

The apartment had 2 bedrooms, a large living and kitchen area, home office workstation, dedicated media & theatre room, and balconies at the front and rear – not a bad place to spend a long weekend!

When we say we decked the place out with connected devices, we really meant it. This included smart TVs, smart speakers, 5G mobile phones, three HTC 5G Wi-Fi routers to connect all the Wi-Fi devices, gaming consoles, Google Home Mini smart speakers, Google Nest smart cameras, a smart doorbell, baby monitor, smart scales in the kitchen, smart lights, smart plugs, and a workstation with laptops, printer, wireless headsets, and a video camera… There was a lot.

In total we safely configured 58 devices to operate in the apartment over 5G, 4G, and Wi-Fi.

Telstra 5G Smart home Layour

How did the network handle all of this?

The 5G network delivered great performance for all the connected devices, with a typical speed ranging from 300-500 Mbps. This meant gaming, streaming movies, sharing updates and connecting with friends on social media all at the same time happened without breaking a sweat – really pushing the teenagers to try and find enough to do to max it out!

The home office also performed very well for the kids to catch up on school assignments and for the parents to work on the Monday. (That was the trade-off for a long weekend on the Gold Coast!)

HTC Telstra 5G modem

What about that EME?

To measure the EME levels in the apartment we set up 2 fixed EME monitoring stations, one in the living and kitchen area, and the other in the media room. Most of the activity occurred in the living and kitchen area. The monitoring devices we used continuously recorded the EME levels and we even used a third portable EME monitoring device to measure the EME on the balconies and other locations in the apartment.

Outside of the apartment we measured the EME from the individual devices in a laboratory to determine what the level from each device was at a close distance.

What about the EME results from these devices?

Overall, the background EME levels from the mobile and Wi-Fi connections were very low.

The highest EME levels measured inside the apartment were in the living and kitchen area during the dinner party when everyone was trying their best to max the network out, where we recorded a total of just 0.008% of the EME safety limit.

This is more than 10,000 times below the public EME safety limit and included all the 5G, 4G, and 5G powered Wi-Fi signals combined.

For perspective, the background EME levels measured from the local TV and FM radio stations on the balcony was 0.011% – which is slightly higher than the EME from all the 5G, 4G and Wi-Fi inside the apartment during the period when it was maxed out.

When testing all devices in the apartment individually, the average EME level from the baby monitor in the bedroom was 0.813% – this result comes from the standard test for a device of its kind, measured 20cm from the device.

Did they manage to max it out?

They sure did! They really needed to put their thinking caps on to find enough to stream and download, but they got there.

During the Saturday afternoon, our lucky teenagers gaming, using mobiles and laptops and watching movies managed to record similar 5G EME levels to a synthetic network test that we had previously performed, where we loaded the 5G network to near maximum capacity.

The results measured inside the living room showed the 5G EME levels were very similar. Nice work!

  • Teenagers maxing out the network: 5G EME = 0.00149%
  • 5G network loaded to near-maximum capacity: 5G EME = 0.00143%

What do our test results mean for families and homes with many connected devices?

Our EME testing demonstrates that even under very high utilization – with over 50 connected devices using 5G, 4G and Wi-Fi – the EME levels are very low and well below the EME safety limits. This should provide reassurance to families, particularly when everyone is at home working, schooling, entertaining and connecting online.

Now for the nerdy stuff

The chart below shows the variation in EME levels on the Saturday during the dinner party and on the Sunday during more normal family usage.

The green plot below is Wi-Fi and the blue plot is 5G, and you can see that EME levels are more than 10,000 times below the public safety limits.

5G EME Levels Telstra Smart Home

How the EME test devices work

The EME testing was conducted using Narda SRM3006 frequency selective spectrum analyzers.

Each spectrum analyser was set up to continuously ‘sweep’ and record the EME levels over the 700MHz – 3600MHz bands, then record the 1-minute average EME level. Each 1-minute average reading consisted of approximately 40 sweeps.

The 1-minute average EME readings can then be post-processed to give a six-minute average EME level – this is the procedure as required by the current Australian EME safety standard set by ARPANSA.

EME Testing Telstra 5G Smart Home

The connected devices were separately tested in our laboratory to measure the EME levels close to the device. The recommended distance for testing these types of devices that are not intended to be used against the head or body (like a mobile phone) is 20cm, as specified by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

We connected each device and measured the peak and average EME levels at 20cm from the device. The highest average EME level recorded was from the baby monitor (0.813%) and the lowest EME level recorded was the smart power board (0.00008%).

You can check out our full testing report to find out more about this exercise.

And if you’re interested in more of the behind the scenes on how we did it, we have it all here for you to check out.

Unveiling our first 5G device, after a year of network evolution
5G |

The answers to your biggest 5G questions

By Luke Hopewell October 22, 2020

You’ve heard a lot about 5G, but not all 5G is created equally – and not everything you’ve heard is accurate. Here are your biggest questions about 5G, definitively answered.

We’ve always been about giving customers the best network in more places. All our competitors have a long way to go before they can compete for the title of Australia’s best 5G.

What is 5G?

5G represents the next-generation of mobile connectivity, bringing higher data speeds, greater bandwidth, and lower latency. 5G stands for fifth generation, and it’s about getting you the speed you need, while powering the future of connected technology. From self-driving cars to rescue drones and everything in between, 5G is made for what’s next.

Why do I want 5G?

2G brought us SMS and picture messaging. 3G was all about mobile internet. 4G made streaming and sharing part of everyday life.

With 5G, downloads are faster thanks to better network speeds. It’s a future where devices are interconnected, and immersive experiences are the norm.

Right now, 5G on Telstra powers wireless broadband devices and smartphones.

The difference between 4G and 5G is that it’s twice as fast – and getting faster. 5G is designed for more devices at once and built to get data traffic from one place to another (known as latency) quickly. While 4G supported an explosion of video and data, 5G is purpose-built for our mobile-driven world.

How fast is Telstra 5G?

You may have seen other 5G networks, but what you don’t know is that not all 5G is built equally. It’s a complex system of towers, technology, geography and spectrum.

When you stack up all the 5G in Australia, ours comes out as the fastest and most available. We even decided to go and check it out for ourselves in side-by-side comparison tests*. And we filmed it.

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Same device. Same location. Can you spot the difference? 🤔

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Armed with two Samsung Galaxy S20 5G devices, we put a Telstra 5G SIM card in one and the other telco’s 5G SIM card in the other and took both devices to six different locations around Sydney NSW to test them side-by-side:

To make it fair, we made sure each and every test was within both telcos’ 5G footprint so we chose locations with five bars of 5G coverage on both networks.

In each and every test we carried out on the day Telstra 5G came out faster and, on average, Telstra 5G was around 50% faster than the other telco’s 5G network in the tests we did.

Where can I get 5G?

Telstra has more than 2000 5G sites in more than 60 cities and towns and 1400 suburbs with access to 5G – that’s more streets, more houses and more places covered by Telstra 5G. We’re fastest everywhere tested by independent studies – and that’s real speed, right now, not some point in the future.

Even the experts agree: Telstra has Australia’s best 5G. According to the results from experts, Telstra 5G has the highest average download speeds, and our 5G coverage was more widely available in all of the eight cities tested.

The average download speeds on our network show we’re well ahead of our competition.

On average across the eight cities tested, our 5G achieved average download speeds above 220 Mbps, which is an excellent result. These results mean that we have the highest average download speeds in each of the tested cities when measured against our closest competitor.

These results tell a much deeper story than a simple speed test does, demonstrating that our 5G is not only faster (on average), but is available in more places in the cities tested.

Is 5G dangerous?

We’re used to hearing these sorts of questions.

If you see a 5G antenna pop up near you, there’s no need to be afraid. Despite what some might say, you don’t have to worry about 5G. And we should know: we’ve been testing it for some time.

The safety of 5G is an important question, and in January 2020 Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy issued the following statement to reassure Australians:

I’d like to reassure the community that 5G technology is safe. There is no evidence telecommunication technologies, such as 5G, cause adverse health impacts. This position is supported by health authorities in Australia – such as the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) – and around the world, such as the World Health Organization (WHO).

‏‎At Telstra we have done extensive testing on our 5G network with specialised equipment and the EME levels measured were found to be well below the safety limits, and in many cases over a thousand times lower.

Read more about the facts on 5G EME and our testing to ensure we comply with the safety limits.

Do I need a 5G phone?

To access Telstra 5G, you do need a device capable of accessing the 5G network. But 5G support needn’t be a hassle.

We have a wide range of 5G devices, including the latest flagships from Google, Apple, Samsung and more.

We’re always adding devices to our 5G-capable line-up, so make sure you check out Telstra.com for the latest.

How much is 5G?

5G is included at no extra cost on most of our new personal and small business plans. These plans also include no excess data charges in Australia, no lock-in contracts and give you unlimited standard national calls and SMS.

In fact, it’s cheaper than ever to get 5G with Telstra. New and current customers who sign-up to our XL plan until 16th November 2020 will receive a $50 discount per month for 12 months. This plan includes access to our 5G. That means customers will receive 180GB of data on Australia’s best 5G for $65 per month for 12 months.

Head to Telstra.com to find out more about our plans and offers to try 5G for yourself.

What you need to know

  • Testing was carried out on Thursday 24 September 2020.
  • Mobile speeds can vary and may be slower than those shown and you need a 5G handset and coverage to get similar speeds.
  • You can check coverage on Telstra.com/5G.
  • Difference is % faster that Telstra is over its competitor.
  • Telstra’s #1 ranking is based on analysis by Ookla® of Speedtest Intelligence® data over the period from July to September 2020 for average 5G download speeds in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.

5G |

Get the facts on 5G from our 5G Chief Investigator

By Luke Hopewell October 12, 2020

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about 5G. Like… a LOT. We decided it was time to get to the bottom of the conspiracy theories to find the facts about 5G – so Mark Humphries, our 5G Chief Investigator, is on the case. Here are his findings.

Our 5G Chief Investigator is on the case to debunk 5G mysteries. To get the facts and share them with your friends, family and other crazy acquaintances on Facebook, check out our Fact Sheet on EME, and our Fact Sheet on Telstra 5G.

Meet our 5G Chief Investigator

Has 5G been tested?

Our 5G Chief Investigator talks to an electro-magnetic energy (EME) expert about whether 5G “radiation” is harmful to humans. Spoiler: it’s not.

Does 5G spread COVID-19?

Your crazy uncle on Facebook might think so, but no: 5G radio waves do not spread infections droplets.

Does 5G harm the environment?

Conspiracies about that 5G is killing plant life and even birds. The number one killer of plants and birds, however, so is leaving them alone with your housemate when you go on holiday.

Does 5G affect your DNA?

Don’t worry, your DNA is safe from 5G.

Can a USB device “protect” you from 5G?

First things first, you don’t need “protecting” from 5G, second, obviously no. It’s clearly a scam!

5G, EME Safety Testing
5G | Network |

5G, electromagnetic energy and your health: here are the facts

By Mike Wood December 11, 2019

‏‏‎ ‎

As we continue our rollout of 5G technology around Australia, we are committed to sharing information on our real-world tests of 5G electromagnetic energy (EME) levels. These resources give you the facts about 5G – not fear or fiction.

We know that your health, and the health of your family and friends, is important. Unfortunately, we have seen some confusion online that we believe is the result of misinformation from community groups advocating against 5G.

We understand that there is a wide range of information available online and that this may be overwhelming. We rely on the expert advice of Australian 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, as well as our own testing.

In June, ARPANSA published an update on their web site to address the Misinformation and in November on the question of 5G safety, ARPANSA provided the following update to the Federal Government Inquiry on 5G.

“Health authorities around the world, including ARPANSA and the World Health Organization (WHO), have examined the scientific evidence for possible health effects from telecommunications sources. Current research indicates that there is no established evidence for health effects from radio waves used in mobile telecommunications. This includes the upcoming roll-out of the 5G network. ARPANSA’s assessment is that 5G is safe.”

From a Telstra perspective, our goal in testing EME levels associated with 5G is to provide you with verifiable, fact-based information from real-world settings and locations in Australia, rather than the anecdotal claims of individuals and groups that do not have access to the same scientific testing equipment we do. We publish the compliance certificates for each of our mobile base stations on the Radiofrequency National Site Archive.

We have also created a straightforward fact sheet with information on 5G and EME, distilling our comprehensive real-world testing and other important data into a format that you can easily share with friends or family that might be interested in learning more about 5G and health.

This one-page print-out has information about our 5G network; how we’re rolling it out; and additional resources you can consult to get additional facts on the new networking standard.

Importantly, the fact sheet demonstrates that the EME levels of 5G are similar to that of 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi networks. We continually monitor our EME levels and are required to conduct EME compliance audits with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). We encourage you to take a look at the fact sheet and share it with others.

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Below, you’ll find a full list of all our previous publications on 5G and EME. As we continue to roll out and make improvements to our 5G mobile network infrastructure, we will share more information with you. We’re committed to sharing this information to give you peace of mind about the health impacts of 5G, and to address the misinformation we have encountered online.

5 surveys of 5G show EME levels well below safety limits

We recently conducted testing on our 5G technology on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane to give a clear and definitive answer to many of the questions people are asking about its safety. Our testing found our 5G technology produces EME levels at around 1000 times below safety limits in many cases. Our testing also consistently found 5G EME levels to be similar to 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.

5 things you need to know about 5G and EME

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. Here, we’ve answered five of the most important questions we’ve heard from you around 5G, including on our testing procedures and advice from government on 5G technology.

Answering your questions on 5G and EME: our new 5G FAQ

As 5G accelerates towards the mainstream, and with many stories on 5G and health appearing around the internet, we’ve created an extensive FAQ to explain the fundamentals of our new 5G technology. 5G brings many significant benefits for Australians, and we’re keen to educate our customers and partners on its potential.

Understanding 5G and EME

As we continue our rollout of 5G across Australia, we’re working with our industry and government partners to create educational resources for communities and individuals who may be interested in the new technology. Our 5G Explained project is full of information on how 5G works, what it will enable across our networks, and how 5G will evolve into the future.

Over the next few months, we’ll be testing more elements of 5G and we’ll share our findings here on Telstra Exchange to help keep you up to date and informed.

Download the fact sheet today, and watch our network tests in the video above to learn more about 5G EME.

5G | Tech and Innovation |

5 surveys of 5G show EME levels well below safety limits

By Mike Wood July 8, 2019

‏‏‎ ‎

We’ve completed extensive testing of our 5G network infrastructure in real-world settings using commercially available 5G devices, and our data confirms two things. Firstly, our 5G technology produces electromagnetic energy (EME) levels at around 1000 times below the safety limits in many cases. Secondly, all our testing has found 5G EME levels to be similar to 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi.

It is great for us to have real EME readings from 5G in a live network, in a variety of typical use cases and locations like cafes, residential streets, sports fields, schools and apartments. These are the places that 5G is going to be used in the real world, so it is important for us to be able to show people the real data on 5G and EME.

We conducted our testing on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane in collaboration with Ericsson, Narda and Total Radiation Solutions, to give a clear and definitive answer to many of the questions people are asking. As far as we are aware, to date Telstra is the only operator to undertake this level of real-world testing. We believe that we have a responsibility to share this data freely and publicly and to explain what it means in the simplest terms.

We tested both the HTC 5G Hub mobile broadband hotspot and the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G smartphone for this survey, and configured both devices to produce a high level of data traffic over 5G using download speed tests, 4K video streams, and the iPerf network transmission test tool.

Indoors – inside apartments and cafes

In the testing we completed inside apartments and cafes near our 5G Innovation Centre at Southport on the Gold Coast, we measured 5G EME levels consistently under 0.02 per cent of the ARPANSA standard limit – that is, more than 5000 times below the safety limit put in place by the Australian government body responsible for EME.

We undertook our testing in apartments where young families and our own network engineer partners live. It is important to us that we are able to demonstrate the levels of EME produced by our 5G technology and 5G devices add no risk when compared to existing technologies.

In fact, in our apartment testing, we had a room full of network engineers maxing out their devices simultaneously, while still delivering those EME results of more than 1000 times below safety limits. It is also important to note that existing safety standards for EME cover 5G, including children, are conservative and will also include the higher mmWave frequencies to be used in the future.

Outdoors – in the street, at school, at the sports ground

Outside in the street – as well as at a school and at a sports ground in the suburb of Musgrave in Queensland – our testing confirmed that 5G produces EME levels well below the safety limits. Our real-world testing using commercial devices and our live 5G network showed EME levels at around 1000 times below the safety limit in many cases.

With this data available to us after real-world testing, we are able to answer questions from customers and alike, and to confirm that all our 5G base stations comply with stringent EME safety standards. We also continue to publish the compliance certificates and EME reports for each base station on the Radiofrequency National Site Archive.

Positive feedback from the scientific community

We presented this data to the World Health Organisation in Geneva, to the International Electrotechnical Commission, and to the 2019 BioEM Conference at Montpellier, France in late June. The feedback from scientists, engineers and technical experts was positive – these are currently the definitive real-world tests for the EME levels produced by 5G in everyday use conditions, along with our comparison of 5G to the EME produced by existing 4G, 3G and Wi-Fi.

People have asked what 5G will be like when many more devices are connected. To answer this question, we tested mmWave on our trial network operating at maximum capacity and also modelled our tests results on the current network at maximum capacity. Next year we will undertake further testing on mmWave frequencies with more spectrum.

Essentially, the many efficiency improvements of 5G over 4G and 3G mean that when more devices are connected to a network, EME levels remain low on 5G – this is one of the main advantages of the new technology.

Testing shows 5G EME well below safety limits

We will undertake further testing on our future 5G network configuration and proposed mmWave spectrum, including on the ‘beam steering’ capability of 5G, which can improve coverage and data transfer speeds using existing antenna hardware and even more efficient transmission methods.

In all our testing, 5G EME levels were found to be well below the EME safety limit – in many cases, around 1000 times below the safety limits. Even when our indoor testing results are quadrupled to represent the maximum 5G transmitter power possible, EME levels would still only reach 0.1 per cent of the public exposure limit of the safety standard.

These survey results affirm our view that 5G adds no risk compared to existing technologies, and reinforces the official advice from the expert bodies like the Australian government agency ARPANSA, the World Health Organisation and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

For our full report on our 5G EME testing, you can read more here.