ZDNet is reporting that Australia’s two largest telcos, Optus and Telstra, are downplaying the danger of 5G, indicating it is generally safer than common household items.
Australia has an electromagnetic energy (EME) safety limit that devices must fall under in order to be used. Household items are usually far below that limit, with microwaves coming in 100 times below the maximum. Responding to concerned citizens and various groups, Australia’s House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications and the Arts launched an inquiry into 5G deployment.
The two telco giants have cooperated with the inquiry, attempting to ease the committee’s concerns about the new technology.
“EME in the home from mobile networks is typically below those emitted by standard household devices such as a microwave oven or baby monitor,” Optus wrote in a statement to the committee.
“Some of these concerns are being fuelled by false and alarmist claims from unreliable sources. Both industry and government need to work harder to counter any misinformation and ensure that the community is armed with the facts to enable it to embrace the technology that will bring so many benefits to people’s lives.”
In testimony before the committee, Telstra principal of 5G EME strategy Mike Wood echoed those sentiments:
“Leading up to the public launch of 5G with the 3.5GHz network…. What we found again was that they were getting a much faster response time, because the network was quicker and you could deliver the signal quicker. That meant that the signal was lower and the EME levels were lower — in fact, they were very similar to 3G, 4G and WiFi.
“What we find is that because 5G’s very efficient, it typically runs at a lower level than an everyday device in your house like a baby monitor or a microwave oven.
“When we’ve done our tests on our 5G network, they’re typically 1,000 to 10,000 times less than what we get from other devices. So when you add all of that up together, it’s all very low in terms of total emission. But you’re finding that 5G is in fact a lot lower than many other devices we use in our everyday lives.”
If the two companies’ findings are correct, they should go a long way toward easing people’s minds. One of the biggest challenges to 5G deployment has been the belief that it would expose people to far more radiation and EME than earlier wireless technology.
One such example is Switzerland, where a number of the cantons have called for a halt on 5G deployment until further studies can be done, in what has been one of the biggest backlashes to the fledgling technology.
While further studies—especially independent studies by non-telco entities—will need to be done, it’s still reassuring that both Optus and Telstra found no basis for concern.