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Australia leading the global harmonisation of 5G safety standards

As the evolution of the next generation of mobile technologies (5G) accelerates, Australian experts are at the cutting edge of the new wireless technology and leading the global development of the 5G EMF compliance testing standards.

As previously reported by AMTA, Telstra’s EMF specialist and Chair of AMTA’s Health and Safety Committee - Mike Wood also chairs the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) committee TC106, which has responsibility to develop the global compliance assessment standards for wireless devices and networks including 5G.

Reflecting Australia’s significant contribution to the 5G safety standards led by Mike, his Australian colleagues and the Standards Australia team, this week will see  global 5G experts  converge on Melbourne for the 2017 TC 106 plenary and associated committee meetings hosted by Aurecon.

Travis Strong, Aurecon’s Client Director, Data and Telecommunications welcomes the opportunity for Aurecon, to be able to participate in this important international meeting saying ‘it’s a privilege and allows us to participate in setting the bar for 5G wireless technology deployment. Aurecon’s deep technical experience in related projects allows us to offer valuable insights that we believe will be of benefit to the whole telecoms industry,”

At this pivotal time preparing for 5G, Standards Australia CEO, Dr Bronwyn Evans, believes “Australia’s commitment to international leadership in EME safety standards is underpinned by the significant investment Australia makes into safety standards.” The industry very much recognises the importance in this phase of wireless communications standardisation. Chris Althaus, CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), values the international collaboration as it ensures our Australian EME compliance systems continue to be world leading and are among those updated for 5G.

To ensure we are ready for 5G with global testing standards, the IEC has just published the new base station assessment standard IEC62232 Edition 2, and at the Melbourne meeting will finalise a new Technical Report on 5G device compliance assessment procedures.

The new base station assessment standard 62232 ED2 provides a globally harmonised approach and the most up to date techniques for the assessment of electromagnetic fields around radio base stations including the new 5G frequencies. 

The IEC will have a mix of new Standards and Technical Reports available by 2018 for the 5G test networks and early deployments, and full international standards by 2020 for the main commercial release of 5G.

Standards Australia will work with stakeholders to adopt the new international standards to ensure Australia benefits from this globally harmonised approach.

In terms of health, the radio frequencies planned for 5G (including millimetre Waves) have been used for decades by other radio frequency applications, such as microwave communication, satellite and radar and the latest advice from the World Health Organization is that “despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health”.

Using this extensive research, exposure guidelines have been established by independent scientific organizations, such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and include substantial margins of safety to protect all people.

Whilst the benefits and use cases for 5G continue to evolve, the increased efficiency means that 5G will be able to carry significantly more data while still maintaining low transmit power and low EME levels.  Even with 4G, and more people and things now connected than ever before, EME levels remain relatedly stable as a result of advances in wireless technology.

AMTA, Standards Australia and host Aurecon will post updates from the meeting during the week.

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How will 5G improve network performance

While the technical standards for 5G are still being developed, experts agree that 5G will offer: Latency of less than 1ms; Ability to deliver speeds of up to 10 Gbps and beyond; Energy efficiency in running 1000s of devices; and Improved network capacity by enabling millions of low bandwidth devices to connect simultaneously. Where 4G focussed on providing improved speed and capacity for individual mobile phone users, 5G will enable more industrial applications, and could be a major technological driver in industrial digitalisation. For more information about 5G read our latest report from Deloitte Access Economics. Download the complete report.

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Flexibility in Network Deployment Regulations

The Department of Communications and the Arts has just completed its public consultation on a suite of amendments to the regulatory framework governing carriers’ deployment of mobile network infrastructure. AMTA joined Communications Alliance in welcoming the opportunity to provide comment on the DoCA consultation paper.

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ARPANSA's latest literature review reports on new Australian study which finds no increase in brain cancer with mobile phone use

In The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA's) regular EMR literature survey for May 2016, ARPANSA report on the recent Australian study by Professor Simon Chapman which asks the question "Has the incidence of brain cancer risen in Australia since the introduction of mobile phones 29 years ago?".  The paper pubslished in cancer epidermology compared mobile phone ownership with the incidence of brain cancer in Australia.  In the study, brain cancer incidence rates from 1982 to 2012 are compared with the number of mobile phone accounts in the Australian population from 1987 to 2012. The study found that although mobile phone use increased from 0% to 94% during the 30 year period brain cancer incidence rates were stable.  This finding is consitent with previous studies in the US, UK. New Zealand and Nordic countries. See ARPANSA's commentary here: Full paper may be found here: