Bringing 5G Responsibly

At GCI, our customers are our friends, family, and neighbors and their health and safety is our highest priority. That's why we adhere to the regulations and recommendations by agencies like the FCC, FDA and WHO when we introduce new technology. The 5G radio products we have invested in are tested for compliance with relevant regulations and national standards before they are delivered to the market. It's important to us because we live and work in the communities where 5G is being deployed. 

Know The Facts 

In all mobile networks, connected devices communicate with base stations using radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF), also known as radio waves. Since the adoption of mobile communication in the 1990s some members of the public have raised concerns that the radio waves from mobile phones and base stations could 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, our contracted project partner 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. 


What research into health effects has been done on 5G?

The electromagnetic frequencies used for 5G are part of the radio frequency spectrum that has been extensively researched in terms of health impacts. 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 frequencies planned for 5G.

The data from this research has been analyzed by many expert review groups. Weighing the whole body of science, there is no evidence to convince experts that exposure below the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) carries any known health risks, for adults or children.

The EMF-Portal (www.emf-portal.org) is an open-access extensive database of scientific research into the effects of EMF, including studies on the effects of RF on health. It is managed by the RWTH Aachen University, Germany and linked from the WHO website. EMF-Portal contains more than 25,000 published scientific articles on the biological and health effects of EMF and 2,500 studies on mobile communications.

Common Questions*

Yes – the current research is focused on the alignment of the human exposure guidelines at frequencies below and above 6 GHz where the measurement parameter changes from Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) below 6 GHz to Power Density above 6 GHz. For more on SAR see http://www.sartick.com/.

The research is also focused on the dielectric properties of human skin to ensure that the power density levels and averaging area across the skin align with the temperature values that are the basis of the human exposure guidelines.

For example, a mobile device operating at 5 GHz will be assessed for compliance by measuring the SAR. The SAR levels are set to limit the absorbed power so that the temperature rise in the head or body from the device operating at maximum power is below the equivalent relevant limit. If the same device was operating at 6.5 GHz, a power density measurement would be required, so the measurement parameters would need to ensure the same limit in temperature rise is maintained.  

5G technology will be used in a wide range of devices. All these devices will be evaluated to ensure that they conform to the RF safety limits adopted by agencies around the world.
Yes – The EMF safety limits cover the 5G frequency range and include substantial margins of safety to protect all people including children from all established hazards.
The radio transmitters in such devices are generally transmitting with very low power. When tested they are required to comply with national or international exposure limits. When watching a video the device is mostly receiving information and only transmits information for brief periods. Other types of devices such as personal trackers also transmit for short periods of time.
5G devices will automatically minimize the transmit power to the lowest level in order to complete a satisfactory communication with the network. Such automatic power control has existed in previous generations of mobile technologies (2G, 3G and 4G) and helps to minimize interference, prolong battery life and also has the effect of limiting the EMF exposure of the user. The transmit power of the device is controlled by the network.
No – 5G networks are designed to be more efficient and will use less power than current networks for similar services. With the introduction of new technologies, there may be a small increase in the overall level of radio signals due to the fact that new transmitters are active. In some countries deployment of 5G may occur as part of closure of earlier wireless networks. Based on the transition from previous wireless technologies we can expect that the overall exposure levels will remain relatively constant and a small fraction of the international exposure guidelines.

Base stations used for 5G will consist of various types of facilities including small cells, towers, masts and dedicated in-building and home systems.

Small cells will be a major feature of 5G networks particularly at the new mmWave frequencies where the connection range is very short. To provide a continuous connection, small cells will be distributed in clusters depending on where users require connection and this will complement the macro network 5G base stations.

5G networks will work in conjunction with 4G networks. In many cases, existing 4G base stations will be used for additional 5G equipment. 

Yes – 5G networks are specifically designed to minimize transmitter power, even more than existing 4G networks. 5G networks use a new advanced radio and core architecture which is very efficient and minimizes transmissions consistent with service requirements which results in optimized EMF levels. The network also controls the power level of the device to the lowest level in order to complete a satisfactory communication with the network.

The technical standards for the 5G networks and devices are still under development however it is expected that the size of the compliance zone for 5G antennas will be similar to that of other mobile technologies using similar transmitter powers.

Mobile network antennas are typically directional. Compliance zones extend in front of the antenna and a small distance above and below.

Mobile networks are designed to use only the power needed to provide quality services. Too much power would cause interference and affect all users. One of the goals of 5G is a substantial increase in network energy efficiency.

Where 5G is added to an existing site with other mobile technologies, the existing compliance zone may increase due to the addition of the 5G technology however this will depend on the site design and network configuration.

No – Active Denial Systems developed by the military use very high powered mmWave directional signal, sometimes called a ‘heat ray’ in the 90 GHz band designed to heat the surface of targets such as the skin of a human, and through the heat, control or restrict access.

5G and other mmWave radio communications use different frequencies and a fraction of the power. The human exposure limits for mobile communications technology prevent heating occurring.

Additional information on ADS systems is available here. https://jnlwp.defense.gov/About/Frequently-Asked-Questions/Active-Denial-System-FAQs

*Developed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association in association with the GSMA and Mobile and Wireless Forum (2018, March) 5G and EMF Explained . Retrieved from http://www.emfexplained.info/