“Over the past 20 years, a large number of studies have been carried out to assess the presence of a possible health risk from mobile phones. To date, no evidence has been found of harmful effects from the use of mobile phones on health.
5G, or fifth Generation, is the latest wireless mobile phone technology, first widely deployed in 2019.
5G represents an evolution in telecommunication standards. To enable increased performance, 5G will extend into higher frequencies around 3.5 GHz and up to a few tens of GHz. The higher frequencies are new to mobile phone networks, but are commonly used in other applications, such as point-to-point radio links.
At these higher frequencies, 5G networks will use a greater number of base stations and of connected objects. 5G will further employ beam-forming antennas to focus signals more efficiently towards the device in use, rather than having the signal spread in broad directions as in current base station antennas.
Currently, exposure from 5G infrastructures at around 3.5 GHz is similar to that from existing mobile phone base stations. With the use of multiple beams from 5G antennas, exposure could be more variable as a function of location of the users and their usage. Given that the 5G technology is currently at an early stage of deployment, the extent of any change in exposure to radiofrequency fields is still under investigation.
To date, and after much research performed, no adverse health effect has been causally linked with exposure to wireless technologies. Health-related conclusions are drawn from studies performed across the entire radio spectrum but, so far, only a few studies have been carried out at the frequencies to be used by 5G.
Tissue heating is the main mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency fields and the human body. Radiofrequency exposure levels from current technologies result in negligible temperature rise in the human body.
As the frequency increases, there is less penetration into the body tissues and absorption of the energy becomes more confined to the surface of the body (skin and eye). Provided that the overall exposure remains below international guidelines, no consequences for public health are anticipated.
Two international bodies produce exposure guidelines on electromagnetic fields. Many countries currently adhere to the guidelines recommended by: The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, through the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety. These guidelines are not technology-specific. They cover radiofrequencies up to 300 GHz, including the frequencies under discussion for 5G.
WHO is conducting a health risk assessment from exposure to radiofrequencies, covering the entire radiofrequency range, including 5G, to be published by 2022.
WHO will review scientific evidence related to potential health risks from 5G exposure as the new technology is deployed, and as more public health-related data become available.
WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project in 1996. The project investigates the health impact of exposure to electric and magnetic fields in the frequency range 0-300 GHz and advises national authorities on EMF radiation protection.
WHO advocates for further research into the possible long-term health impacts of all aspects of mobile-telecommunications. The Organization identifies and promotes related research priorities. It also develops public information materials and promotes dialogue among scientists, governments, and the public to increase understanding around health and mobile communications.
In all mobile networks, connected devices communicate with base stations using radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMF), also known as radio waves. The adoption of mobile communication since the 1990s has created some public concern that the radio waves from mobile phones and base stations may cause adverse health effects.
Expert groups and public health authorities, including the World Health Organization have reviewed available scientific studies and have concluded that the balance of evidence does not demonstrate any health effects associated with radio wave exposure from either mobile phones or radio base stations complying with international limits.
Since 1996, Azercell’s strategic partner Ericsson has co-sponsored over 100 independent studies on electromagnetic fields and health, primarily through the Mobile & Wireless Forum (MWF). To ensure scientific independence, firewalls were in place between the industrial sponsors and the researchers and all results were made available by publication in the open scientific literature. In 2018 the MWF published a summary of the EMF and health research that has been funded since 1998, “MWF 20 years of research”.
5G equipment, whether it be mobile devices or base stations, meet the same safety standards as the equipment used in current networks.
The overall aim of 5G is to provide connectivity everywhere for any kind of device that may benefit from being connected. 5G will support a wide range of new applications and use cases, including smart homes, traffic safety, critical infrastructure, industry processes and very-high-speed media delivery. And it will accelerate the development of the Internet of Things.
5G capabilities will extend far beyond previous generations
To meet the demands of the new applications and use cases, the capabilities of 5G will extend far beyond previous generations of mobile communication. Examples are very high data rates, very short delay (latency), ultra-high reliability, high energy efficiency and ability to handle many more devices within the same area.
Radio waves are used for communication in 5G
Like in previous mobile networks, 5G devices will communicate with base stations by transmitting and receiving radio waves, or radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF).
5G will use new radio technology and new frequency bands
5G networks will incorporate the existing 4G LTE technology, but a new radio technology also will be introduced that meets all the extended capability demands of 5G. To increase the capacity of the mobile networks and support very high data rates, 5G will extend the range of frequencies used for mobile communication. This includes new spectrum below 6 GHz, as well as spectrum in higher frequency bands up to 100 GHz.
5G equipment will use beamforming to improve performance
To address the demands of increased performance, 5G base stations and devices will use many antennas. Arrays of up to hundreds of small antennas at the base station will make it possible to focus the transmission of radio waves to maximize the signals that the connected devices receive. This is called beamforming or massive MIMO. Thanks to this technology the transmitted power can be kept low resulting in radio wave exposure at similar levels as in previous networks, even though the performance is significantly improved.
Exposure levels will be below international safety limits
The power levels of the radio signals transmitted by 5G radio equipment will be of similar or lower magnitude as those used in previous networks. 5G devices will be designed and tested to comply with established radio wave exposure limits. 5G base stations will be positioned so that the exposure in homes and public areas is well below the limits.
As for existing networks, the exposure limits may be reached near a base station antenna. The antennas are installed in such a way that unauthorized people do not have access to this area, which varies in size from a few centimeters for small indoor antennas up to several meters for antennas mounted on masts or on rooftops. The intensity of the exposure drops quickly when moving away from the antenna, and the exposure levels are well below the limits in places where people normally reside.
Exposure limits are set by independent organizations
Independent expert organizations have established the exposure limits for radio waves based on many years of research. The limits are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), among others, and include large safety margins. 5G equipment, whether it be mobile devices or base stations, will meet the same safety standards as the equipment used in previous mobile communication networks.