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


Posted on July 8, 2019

5 min read

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.

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.

Tags: 5g, customers, EME, health,

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


Posted on April 18, 2019

4 min read

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.

Tags: 5g, EME, health,

Understanding 5G and EME

Network 5G

Posted on November 19, 2018

3 min read

There’s been a lot of excitement recently about 5G, and Telstra is leading the charge in Australia. Last month, we turned on 5G-enabled sites in Adelaide, Canberra and Perth, taking our number of 5G-enabled sites to 50 around Australia. The rollout of this new technology has led to a lot of questions about the implications of 5G on everything from the Internet of Things to electromagnetic energy (EME).

To help answer any questions you, your friends, or family have about 5G and electromagnetic energy (or EME) and safety, we’ve created some new resources after extensive industry consultation and collaboration.

Earlier this year, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) launched a new resource at the 2018 CommsDay summit in Sydney: 5G Explained. This website explains how 5G will work with our existing 4G networks, some of its advantages, and the new network architecture – including where antennas may be placed.

The Networks team worked on the year-long project to create 5G Explained to help us understand what 5G is and the implications of 5G on EME levels and what this means in terms of safety. We collaborated with global industry associations the GSMA and Mobile & Wireless Forum, operators, vendors and technology standards organisations to develop a resource that’s available to everyone and easily accessed online.

Understanding 5G and EME

Image: EMF Explained
We’ve also added a new page to our existing EME advice to explain what 5G is, and how it’s different to other technologies. One of our biggest challenges in developing these materials was sifting through the enormous volume of information, marketing, and news on 5G to get to the heart of how it actually works. Our next step was to explain it in a way people will understand.

Talking to our communities and stakeholders about mobile technology is a fundamental aspect of our work, so being able to explain simply what 5G is and how it works is the key to many conversations. 5G Explained includes simple and informative graphics to show people how 5G will relate to their everyday lives.

AMTA’s CEO Chris Althaus, who launched the new resource with us earlier this year, said that “with 5G literally on our doorstep now, and set to revolutionise mobile connectivity, educational resources like this will certainly help with 5G conversations.”

Our recent testing on the 5G trial network on the Gold Coast has shown that the environmental EME levels from all mobile technologies including 5G, is significantly below the limits set out in the EME safety standards. The 5G EME levels were similar to the existing 3G and 4G levels, however the new 5G technology is more efficient and has greater capacity, and can carry more data at significantly faster speeds.

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.

Tags: 5g, EME, health, networks,