Telecommunications regulator reports low exposure levels at small cell sites around Australia

Earlier this year, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) measured the level of radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RF EME) the public is exposed to at 59 small cell sites across Australia.

Small cells, generally located on infrastructure such as light and power poles, are low-powered base stations that provide greater capacity for the mobile network in densely populated areas and strengthen coverage in regional and rural areas.

The purpose of the measurement program was to assess regulatory compliance by telecommunications carriers, and to ensure that the level of RF EME that the community is exposed to is below the limits referenced in the ARPANSA Safety Standard (the Standard).

The measurement program found:

  • For all small cell sites measured, the exposure levels were hundreds of times below the limits outlined in the Standard.
  • All measurements were recorded at well below 1 per cent of the Standard’s limits.
  • All measurements were taken in publicly accessible areas, demonstrating that the public is exposed to extremely low RF EME from small cells.

The Standard has been developed by ARPANSA to protect humans of all ages and health status from adverse health effects of RF EME emissions. It limits human exposure to RF EME well below the level at which harm to people may occur.

‘This study is an important contribution to providing information on public exposure to RF EME. It’s also an important tool for ACMA as the regulator to assess compliance with the ARPANSA Standard’, said Dr Rick Tinker, Director of Assessment and Advice at ARPANSA.

‘The results of ACMA’s measurement program provide assurance that exposure levels from small cell sites are extremely low and in line with exposure levels from traditional mobile phone towers.’

The summary of results is available at https://www.acma.gov.au/publications/2020-06/report/eme-measurements-near-small-cell-base-stations

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