Fish Telecom

Community Information

As the largest privately held, regionally based fixed wireless broadband carrier, Fish Telecom has taken a leadership role and set standards for addressing issues surrounding the fixed wireless access industry. We are mindful of the impact that wireless technology and the jargon used around it has on our communities and respond with information that help our customers use wireless services to their best advantage and in the safest way possible.

Your FishTRIO Fixed Wireless Broadband connection is composed of specialized infrastructure that is completely safe to mount and use around the home, especially outside. This article will describe the devices used in a standard FishTRIO home installation and the following consumer information addresses commonly asked questions about the health effects of fixed wireless access technologies.

Base Stations & Health

What is EME?

Electromagnetic Energy (EME) is the energy stored in an electromagnetic field. EME is generated by electric lighting and appliances, computers, microwave ovens, radio broadcast towers and mobile phones and their base stations.

Electric and magnetic fields produced by wiring or equipment carrying electric current are confined and can only be detected close to their source. Radiofrequency (RF) fields used in radio broadcast towers, mobile phones and fixed wireless access base stations travel through the atmosphere as electromagnetic waves. These waves are modulated (controlled) so as to transmit data.

Do RF fields from FishTRIO base stations present health risks?

Some people express concerns about possible health effects that could result from exposure to radiofrequency fields particularly those emitted from fixed wireless access systems and their base stations.

There is a substantial body of international research that has been critically and independently analysed by scientists from all over the world. This has been unable to establish any adverse health effects associated with typical environments in which general public exposures may occur. However, these studies cannot absolutely prove that an effect does not exist beyond the scope of their design.

In Australia, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has set mandatory limits (200 microwatts per square centimetre) which applies to the exposure of people to radiofrequency (RF) fields from facilities such as mobile phone and fixed wireless base stations. Compliance with the mandatory limits is enforced through random audits.

From the many research studies published in the area of RF fields, the heating effects of RF fields on body tissue have been clearly established. However we do not know whether any of these RF fields could pose any other health risks. What we do know is that research results have not been able to establish adverse health effects at levels below the Australian and international standards.

From the research so far, the weight of national and international scientific opinion is that there is no substantiated evidence to suggest that exposure to non-ionising radiation, such as RF electromagnetic energy emitted from fixed wireless base stations, initiates malignant diseases like leukemia or other cancers.

Even research results seeking to examine potential health risks, using RF exposure levels higher than the Australian mandatory standard, or testing effects of RF EME on animals or living cells, indicate that if there is a risk, it would be small.

Telecommunications base stations operate at very low power and emit extremely low levels of EME. Research results have not been able to establish adverse health effects at these low levels.

Isn't the scientific community divided about the health effects of wireless base stations?

While the media and some others have focused on a small number of research reports which allege possible harmful effects from mobile phones and base stations, they have largely ignored the more than 600 published studies which show no negative health effects at levels below the national and international standards.

There is a strong basis for public confidence in the safety of the technology. There have been more than four decades of RF bio-effects research upon which the national and international exposure standards are based.

There is no substantiated scientific evidence that radio signals from wireless base stations operating in accordance with recognised safety standards pose a health risk. That is not merely Fish Telecoms position, but the established judgment of scientific panels, standard bodies, government agencies and health authorities around the world that are responsible for setting or evaluating guidelines for safe exposure to RF fields.

These include the World Health Organisation, The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, the Royal Society of Canada, the UK's Independent Expert Group Mobile Phones (Stewart Report) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).

These science-based safety standards provide ample margins of protection against any known health risk. All Fish Telecom equipment complies with national and internationally recognised safety standards.

Regulation & Standards

Public exposure limits and regulation of RF fields

The Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA) has set a mandatory limit for radiofrequency (RF) exposure for all devices that produce and radiate radiofrequency fields. Fixed wireless access equipment and their base stations are included in this mandatory limit as are mobile phones, AM and FM radio and TV broadcast stations. This standard requires 24-hour public exposure levels to be below 200 microwatts per square centimetre.

What is the Australian mandatory standard based on?

The international and Australian standards have radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits based on a threshold energy exposure of four watts/kg. RF exposure above this threshold has been experimentally demonstrated to produce adverse health effects. To allow for uncertainties in the experimental results, a safety factor of 10 is incorporated for exposure to workers and a safety factor of 50 is incorporated into the limits for the general public. Thus all current RF standards in Western countries are based on limiting general public exposure to 0.08 watts/kg. These basic exposure limits are difficult to measure directly and hence derived limits have been calculated. If derived limits are met, then the basic exposure limits are always met. For the radio frequencies used by fixed wireless, the derived limits are usually expressed in power density units such as microwatts per square centimetre.

The Australian Communications Authority has mandated a standard that sets public exposure limits for RF at 200 microwatts per square centimetre.

What are the EME levels near Fixed Wireless access base stations?

Fixed wireless access base stations operate at very low power. Independent measurements at ground level show that the exposure from radio transmissions near base stations are typically many hundreds of times below the national and international limits.

Fish Telecom designs and operates its fixed wireless access base stations to comply with the Australian mandatory standard.

RF exposure levels from a typical FishTRIO base station on average are around 0.2 microwatts per square centimetre measured at ground level - 1/1000th of the Australian mandatory standard. Even when fully loaded (i.e. when handling its maximum capacity of data transfer at one time), RF exposure levels from a typical FishTRIO station at ground level are no more than 2 microwatts per square centimetre - 1/100th of the Australian mandatory limit.

A salient point to note here is that FishTRIO base stations emit one tenth of the power that mobile phone base stations emit and recently ARPANSA national survey of mobile phone base stations confirms low exposure levels from even mobile phone base stations.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) have undertaken a national survey of the radiofrequency levels near mobile phone base stations. ARPANSA found that the emissions from base stations were low compared to radio and television signals measured at the same time.

ARPANSA took measurements at fourteen digital mobile phone base stations around Australia and then compared them to the ACMA's public exposure limits. All of the readings taken showed that there was a significant margin for safety based on those limits.

The highest daily average level, taking into account the measurements from all sites surveyed by ARPANSA, was ten thousand times lower than the ACMA limit. Even the highest daily average recorded for one of the sites was still three thousand times lower than the limit

Sources of information

Fish Telecom believes that anyone who is concerned about fixed wireless equipment should seek independent reliable expert advice:

  • Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)
    www.arpansa.gov.au
  • Australian Communications & Media Authority (ACMA)
    Phone: (02) 6219 5555
    www.acma.gov.au
  • World Health Organisation
    EMF Project Home Page: www.who.int/peh-emf/
  • Royal Society of Canada (1999)
    A Review of the Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields from Wireless Telecommunications Devices
    www.rsc.ca
  • International Commission Non-ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
    Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-varying Electric, Magnetic and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz). Health Physics 1998
    www.icnirp.de
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