5G and health

Self-driving cars, delivery drones, following your truck fleet in real-time, long-distance surgery, a movie downloaded in just a few seconds: 5G will be revolutionary for our every-day life in the years to come thanks to higher speed and a hyper-active network.

However, you might be wondering about the impact of the deployment of the Proximus 5G network in Belgium or the effects of 5G on health. Could this promising network have a negative impact on people’s health?

Initially, 5G will emit in the same range of frequencies as the existing 2G, 3G, 4G and WiFi networks have been operating. Despite a significant number of studies in the areas in the last 30 years, no negative impact has been found from operating in this range of frequencies. In the longer run, 5G will also be used on so called “millimeter waves”, which are shorter waves which do not emit as far, and thus require more, smaller, antennas.

In all European countries, 5G is deployed within the framework of the safety standards set by international and independent organizations. The opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is independent, is clear: there is no evidence to convince experts that the technology on which 5G is based presents any health risk - “despite numerous researches, nothing shows that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields is dangerous to human health”. At Proximus, we respond by constantly researching new technologies, educating our customers and advising them on precautions to take.

Exposure resulting from mobile networks

In order to transport voice, data or SMS signals between phones (and other devices) and mobile antennas, mobile networks use radio waves in specific frequency bands. These radio waves create an electromagnetic field (EMF), and the level of this field is strongly regulated and measured in order to ensure it meets legal regulation. Such exposure to radio waves, such as those produced by mobile networks, but also by all electrical appliances, is governed by standards set by independent scientific bodies, such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), who determine those standards based on extensive reviews of the scientific evidence. The limits and standards determined by ICNIRP are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for application in all countries and include large safety margins. 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G equipment, whether it be mobile devices or base stations, all have to meet those same safety requirements.
Therefore, the power levels of the radio signals transmitted by 5G radio equipment will be of similar or lower magnitude as those used in previous networks. 5G devices are designed and tested to comply with established radio wave exposure limits. In countries that follow international recommendations, the actual emission levels are well below the limits and will remain so with the arrival of 5G.
At Proximus, we have been developing and improving a mobile network since the very first call on our network more than 30 years ago. At all stages of this development, the health and safety of our customers and the general public have always been - and continue to be - a top priority for us. 
In Belgium, all three regions impose standards that are significantly stricter than those internationally recommended, despite the fact that those standards already provide significant margins of safety.

Comparison of the exposure norms. The Netherlands, Germany and France follow the international recommendation. The Flemish norm amounts 25% of this recommendation, and the Brussels norm 2%. In Wallonia the norm is defined by antenna per operator and per technology. This amounts to a lower limit than the Flemish norm.

Impact of your mobile phone / connected device

A common misunderstanding is that additional antennas cause increased radiations. In reality, if your phone has difficulties to reach the closest network antenna (for example, it is far away from your home or your home is well isolated), you will have poor reception. In such a case, your mobile phone or tablet has to use its maximum power. A better antenna coverage optimizes the exchange of electromagnetic waves between the antenna and the handsets.

What is the radiation level (SAR value) of your mobile phone?

The radiation level of a device, also called the SAR value (specific absorption rate), is the unit of measurement for the quantity of electromagnetic energy that is absorbed by the body when using a wireless device (mobile, tablet, cordless phone, etc.). The maximum allowed radiation value in Europe is 2 Watt/kg.
You can find the SAR value for a particular device in our mobile phone catalogue. In Belgium, 5 SAR categories have been defined by the health authorities:

the radiation level (SAR value) of your mobile phone

Note: the actual SAR value is usually lower than the maximum value indicated, as your mobile does not use more energy than is necessary to establish a connection with the network. 
While no link has been shown to exist between mobile devices and possible effects on health, should you wish, as a precautionary measure, to limit your or your children's exposure to electromagnetic waves, you should opt for a phone with a low radiation value (e.g. one from category A or B), by having them use an earpiece when making phone calls and or by making calls only when coverage is good (e.g. when you are in the proximity of a transmission mast).

All mobile phones sold by Proximus are provided with an earpiece.