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5G and EME

What is 5G?


5G is the 5th generation of mobile networks, a significant evolution of today’s 4G LTE networks.  5G has the potential to transform the way we all live and work. It will deliver more capacity and faster speeds but on top of that it will support vastly more connected devices at low latency.

5G will take us from a world of connecting people to each other and the internet to a world of ultra-fast mobile speeds and the Internet of Things on a mass scale.  These enhancements will unleash a host of new opportunities – everything from smart cities and smart homes, to drones and driverless cars, to augmented reality in both entertainment and at work.

The ‘Connected Community’ illustrates how 5G and wireless communications provide essential communications for Australian communities – image courtesy Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association.

How 5G works – For more detailed information on how 5G works, visit the EMF Explained Series.


Telstra recently opened our new 5G Innovation Centre at our Southport Exchange on the Gold Coast.  The centre will be the home for testing the next generation of mobile technologies in local conditions to support the early commercial deployment of 5G in Australia.

In 2016, we conducted Australia’s first 5G live field trial and the world-first 5G trial data call over 26GHz ‘mmWave’ radio frequency spectrum.

From our new 5G Innovation Centre, we will complete a number of other 5G firsts and trials in 2018 to ensure Australia remains at the forefront of mobile technology.

During the 5G trials, Telstra will operate the 5G radio frequency systems in compliance with the mandatory electromagnetic energy (EME) safety standards and licence conditions set by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. As Telstra has done with previous generations of mobile technology, Telstra’s future 5G service will be designed to comply with all mandatory EME safety requirements.  Further information on the EME standards is available at the ACMA web site.


5G uses radio waves or radio frequency EME to transmit and receive voice and data – connecting our community.

The frequencies used for 5G are part of the radio frequency spectrum which, for decades, has been extensively researched in terms of health impacts. Over 50 years of scientific research has already been conducted into the possible health effects of the radio signals used for mobile phones, base stations and other wireless services. This research includes the frequencies planned for 5G and mmWave exposures.

The data from this research has been analysed by many expert review groups. Weighing the whole body of science, there is no evidence to convince experts that exposure below the guidelines set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) carries any known health risks, for adults or children. The safety standard in Australia is also based on these guidelines.

There is also an extensive, readily accessible database, EMF-Portal (www.emf-portal.org) of scientific research into the effects of EME, including studies on the effects of radio frequency (RF) on health. It is managed by the RWTH Aachen University, Germany and linked from the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

In terms of research specifically into 5G frequencies, the database lists approximately 350 studies on mmWave EME health related research. Extensive research on mmWave and health has been conducted on radar, microwave and military applications.


Telstra relies on the expert advice of a number of national and international health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) for overall assessments relating to health and safety.

In relation to radio frequency exposures and wireless technology and health, the general conclusion from the World Health Organization (WHO) is;

“Despite extensive research, to date there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health”

Source: WHO About Electromagnetic Fields – Summary of Health Effects Key Point 6

In relation to wireless networks and health, the conclusion from the WHO is;

“Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.”  

Source: WHO Backgrounder on base stations and wireless technologies

ARPANSA’s position is: “Based on current research there are no established health effects that can be attributed to the low RF EME exposure from mobile phone base station antennas” Mobile Phone Base Stations and Health” Fact Sheet August 2016.

Visit this page for more about 5G and Health. There you’ll find three levels of information – L1 Summary, L2 Detailed and L3 Links.


No. ‘5G’ displayed on Wi-Fi modems and routers actually refers to one of the frequency bands used for Wi-Fi of 5GHz. The other Wi-Fi frequency band is 2.4GHz and sometimes displays as 2G on a modem or router.

The 5G mobile technology to be introduced in 2019 is completely new and is the next evolution from 4G and 3G.  It’s completely understandable that people may be confused by the similar abbreviations and terms so we hope this helps to clarify the meaning.


More comprehensive information about 5G and EME is available from the EMF Explained Series, which has been developed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) in association with the GSMA and Mobile and Wireless Forum (MWF).