Radiation Protection

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National Broadband Network Fixed Wireless Base Stations and Health

Based on current research there are no established health effects from the low level exposure to the RF EME from NBN base station antennas.


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Introduction

The National Broadband Network (NBN) makes use of fixed wireless communications links to provide high-speed broadband in areas beyond the reach of the fibre network. Typically, this is where residential blocks are large and widely spaced.

The fixed wireless links use low level radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) to communicate between NBN base stations and small rooftop installations on residences and business premises.

Are NBN base stations regulated in Australia?

The RF EME emissions from mobile phone base stations and other communications installations are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA’s regulatory arrangements require NBN base stations to comply with the exposure limits in the ARPANSA RF Standard. The ARPANSA Standard is designed to protect people of all ages and health status against all known adverse health effects from exposure to RF EME. The ARPANSA Standard is based on scientific research that shows the levels at which harmful effects occur and it sets limits, based on international guidelines, well below these harmful levels.

How much RF EME are people exposed to from NBN base stations?

The maximum levels of exposure of RF EME from NBN base stations may be calculated from details of the equipment installed. These calculations are made available in the ARPANSA EME reports provided by the telecommunications companies on the Radio Frequency National Site Archive website, www.rfnsa.com.au. The NBN sites may be located by searching by postcode or town.

For typical 30-40 m high NBN base stations, the highest EME exposure levels at ground level in the surrounding area are typically thousands of times below the limits of the ARPANSA RF Standard.

Where NBN base station antennas are mounted on the same structure as mobile phone base station antennas, the ARPANSA EME reports provide the overall exposures from the different technologies combined.

Do NBN base stations cause any health effects?

Health authorities around the world, including ARPANSA and the World Health Organization, have examined the scientific evidence regarding possible health effects from the RF EME emitted by NBN base stations. Current research indicates that there are no established health effects from the low exposure to the RF EME from NBN base station antennas.

Conclusion

No adverse health effects are expected from continuous exposure to the low RF EME emitted by the antennas on NBN fixed wireless base stations.

ARPANSA will continue to review the research into potential health effects of RF EME emissions from NBN base stations and other sources in order to provide accurate and up-to-date advice.

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