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Ofcom UK Tests 5G Mobile Emissions and Finds No Concerns

Friday, February 21st, 2020 (11:45 am) - Score 4,879
5G Mobile Wireless Radio Mast

After recently publishing our fact check article on 5G (mobile broadband) health fears (here), we thought it might also be prudent to report on the results of Ofcom’s recent measurements of the electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions at related mobile sites, which found no problems. But the regulator do plan new licence conditions.

As part of its job the UK telecoms and media regulator conducts a spectrum measurement programme, which has been measuring the electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions from equipment used to transmit mobile signals and other wireless services for a number of years. Previously this focused upon existing mobile services (2G, 3G and 4G) but the work has now been extended to 5G and related frequencies.

Ofcom measured EMF emissions at some 16 sites used for 5G in 10 cities across the UK, focusing on areas where mobile use is likely to be highest. Mobile operators tend to direct the most spectrum and capacity at busy locations in order to better feed rising consumer demand.

At every site, emissions were said to be a “small fraction” of the levels included in international guidelines – set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). And indeed the absolute maximum measured at any single site was approximately just 1.5% of those levels, which is nicely under the ICNIRP threshold. In fact most 5G readings were many times lower than even that.

NOTE: At present most UK mobile operators are only able to harness the 3.4GHz band for 5G (this has been used in the same way by 4G and other services for years), but more bands will be auctioned off in 2020.

For example, at sites around Charing Cross in London, where a 3.4GHz based 5G signal was detected, the levels were just 0.0005% (Location 1), 0.0014% (Location 4) and 0.0007% (Location 5). As above, this reflects a percentage of the ICNIRP reference levels for general public exposure.

Ofcom also covered EMF emissions close to the 60GHz (mmWave band) fixed wireless equipment in Liverpool (this is a 5G trial provided by Blu Wireless) and again found nothing to worry about (the highest was just 1.2% of the reference level). Details on all of Ofcom’s surveys can be found here.

What we’ve found

To date, we have carried out EMF measurements at 16 locations in 10 cities across the UK, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London. We have targeted this first set of measurements in areas where there are likely to be high levels of mobile phone use, including in and around major transport hubs and shopping centres.

The results so far indicate that:

• In all cases, the measured EMF levels from 5G-enabled mobile phone base stations are at small fractions of the levels identified in the ICNIRP Guidelines (the highest level being approximately 1.5% of the relevant level); and

• The contribution of 5G to the total emissions level observed is currently low – the highest level we observed in the band used for 5G was just 0.039% of the reference level.

Generally all manufacturers, installers and operators of wireless equipment should already be aware of the ICNIRP guidelines, and factor them in to how they plan their services. However, just to be sure, Ofcom are now proposing new licence conditions for spectrum licensees using equipment that can transmit at power levels above 10 Watts.

The proposals would mean licensees must operate within the ICNIRP guidelines as a condition of their Ofcom licence – including keeping data and records of any testing to demonstrate their compliance. The consultation on this will remain open until 15th May 2020 but since operators already work within ICNIRP guidelines then it’s unlikely to have much practical impact.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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34 Responses
  1. David says:

    Yup – been trying to prove this since the days of WAP and HSPDA – still trying so this is no suprise.

    5G is no danger – and people bleet on about 4G but forget 800mhz is what TV used to be broadcast on. Never saw a “My TV gives me cancer” protests.

    1. Connor Milligan says:

      Also worth considering that TV muxes are broadcast with EIRPs in the 10’s or 100’s of kilowatts. 4G is broadcast in 10s of watts, ie 1000x weaker

    2. David says:

      Indeed – I am sure people will always have this debate – but the fact is nearly all of us have a Microwave – and a Microwave produces much more radiation than 100 mobiles strapped to your ear.

      All they have done is use channels 61 62 and 69.. once filled with Digital channels no one cared about health wise

    3. Declan McGuinness says:

      Exactly what i have been saying to people that try and scaremonger people with 5G will kill us all, a lot of tosh. People see crap on Facebook ect and jump on the band wagon if they done a little bit research first they’d find out the truth.

    4. Tim Sandars says:

      Hi David,

      What tests have you done on the human body to prove that there is a danger?

      I have a product that harmonises all radiation field

      What is happening is that OFCOM are receiving their guidelines from ICNIRP and testing only the field strength, and NOT the effects on the human body.

      ICNIRP sets the threshold at 10watts.

      This is exceptionally high. The BioInitiative report found that health effects start at just 0.001 watts and even way below that.

      I am consistently proving that 4G is very bad for us and 5G takes it up at least double. I use heart rate variability tests, live blood samples and muscle testing and i’m about to do some thermal heat imaging too. These are the right tests to do: test on the human body.

      There is a massive amount of ignorance on this topic and i’d love to put the author straight on this too because i’m sure he’s a good person and doesn’t realise how much he’s misleading everyone.

  2. eQuiLIBERTY says:

    1.5% of maximal ICNIRP guideline levels that are many orders of magnitude higher than the levels at which we repeatedly observe adverse biological and health effects – including in blinded and double blinded peer-reviewed scientific studies?

    “Finding no problems” and “nothing to worry about” only insofar as such compromised establishment organisations are content not to look for, and never mind properly consider, real world biophysical issues – rather than arbitrary benchmarks established decades ago on a scientifically naive, and by now wilfully ignorant (i.e. fraudulent), basis.

    There’s a reason that numerous countries other than profoundly pro-corporate/anti-human five eyes regimes set their exposure guidelines well below these levels. It’s the same reason that many 5G deployments have now effectively been ruled out in Brussels, Switzerland, Slovenia, etc.

    Conveniently expanded regulatory regime – that were set far too high to begin with to be fit for purpose – protect no-one, other than the toxic big wireless complex’s bottom line and malign agenda that is. None of this bodes well for anyone concerned as this toxic technology spreads and evolves.

    Also bear in mind that these measurements come before 5G has really got off the ground in terms of usership. Ambient levels in and around locations with lots of 5G device users are set to increase fairly dramatically if/when uptake and rollout increases. Judging by early reports of households falling ill at deployment sites on the continent (see: Physicians for Safe Tech), you won’t want to be around when that happens.

    Improved compliance mechanisms are to be welcomed but are nowhere near sufficient to allay concerns or to protect the public and our wildlife in the absence of long overdue fundamental reform of the entire regulatory regime.

    5G will have to be halted, military-industrial puppets (ICNIRP et al.) dethroned, and due diligence performed (health and safety testing) before all that many independent experts are satisfied that we are witnessing anything other than the ignominious continuation of a profoundly insidious RF corporatocratic crime against humanity and the environment – in breach of the Nuremberg Code.

    1. Andrew Ferguson says:

      Why the question mark at the end of the first paragraph?

      Care to list the actual biological and health effects the studies have written about? And a link to one peer reviewed document that lists two of these effects?

      No need for a long post, just a short answer on ? mark and the effects.

    2. 125us says:

      Silly man. Nice cut and pasting though.

    3. Vince says:

      Citation needed…

    4. dave says:

      Again with the meaningless wordiness.

      Haven’t you realised that nobody takes your seriously eQuiLIBERTY?

    5. Lee says:

      Sir, you have proven time and again that if you stick 2 electrodes into a potato it can form an opinion.

    6. eQuiLIBERTY says:

      Update: EU Parliament Think Tank is now advising that more research ought to be undertaken to assess health effects associated with RF exposure and has also suggested that guidelines ought to be revised in the context of 5G deployment. The writing is now well and truly on the wall for this unsafe and unsustainable paradigm.

      We should each and every one of us consider the value in being part of progression towards something more ethical and enduring: whether that be a renaissance in wired/full fibre etc, and/or the development of relatively viable innovative new wireless communications systems (e.g. LiFi and beyond).

      We can do it, if only we have the humility to accept we were wrong not to look before we leapt when it came to RF, and also wrong to take establishment dogma on faith/to dismiss those with concerns. We’ve all done it, and in time we will all come round to the fact we were mistaken, it’s just a question of when.

      Andrew Ferguson & Vince

      The question mark denotes our wondering whether those triumphantly asserting “1.5%” have really stopped and considered ‘1.5% of what’?

      Some of the most serious effects include neurological, immunological, carcinogenic, and pathogen disease group affectation. For more detailed lists and specific examples of relevant effects see the reference organisation provided in our OP. The Environmental Health Trust have some good resources too.

      We are not aware of a single peer-review document that lists all such effects. The BioInitiative Report is perhaps the closest thing to one, and in terms of formally peer-reviewed journal publications: the recent Frontiers in Physiology article entitled ‘Risks to Health and Well-Being From Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices’.

    7. dave says:

      “Update: EU Parliament Think Tank is now advising that more research ought to be undertaken to assess health effects associated with RF exposure and has also suggested that guidelines ought to be revised in the context of 5G deployment.”

      That just means that the idiots have been shouting sufficiently loud enough, it doesn’t mean there is anything dangerous about 5G.

      “The writing is now well and truly on the wall for this unsafe and unsustainable paradigm.”

      It really isn’t. 5G is already out there and the cat isn’t going back into the bag. Yes, some localities may restrict it but even those will eventually allow it.


      What has “a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease” (dictionary definition of pathogen) got to do with this at all?


      To me this is the most interesting word you’ve used. Dictionary definition: behaviour, speech, or writing that is pretentious and designed to impress.

  3. Pezza says:

    Sooo… I’m going to guess they have not included the mmW wave tech in these ‘studies’ and tests they’ve performed..
    It’s also rather premature to be setting standards now, surely it’s best to set a benchmark but then set standards once a reasonable number if users are in 5G and it can be properly tested in real world use.

    1. Pezza says:

      Oh never mind they did test mmWave, at one site that was a trial site… hmm still not convinced…
      I’ll stick to the non mmWave 5G personally.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      They aren’t setting any new standards, it’s more about enforcing those that already exist.

    3. David says:

      All light is radiation because it is simply energy moving through space. It’s ionizing radiation that is dangerous because it can break chemical bonds.” … Millimeter waves, on the other hand, are non-ionizing because they have longer wavelengths and not enough energy to damage cells directly.

      Being used in the USA but again no such risk – the only risk a cell tower has to a human is if said tower falls on your head –

    4. Pezza says:

      @Marc That’s my concern, this is totally new technology and the standards should be set accordingly, it seems that they want to paint a picture to the public it’s the same as existing technology.

      @David, mmWaves as I understand it are the same waves as used by microwave ovens, and they chemically change the food to cook it, my concern is no where in the world has their been a mass deployment of these wavelengths for mobile communications, and due to their limited range their will be hundreds of booster sites dotted around, they want to use this tech for self driving cars and have stated they will need a lot of them.
      I’m sure they are very limited in power, but when used in mass over a long time period, that’s where my concern is which simply performing extremely limited test at one select test site wont avail.
      There needs to be real world testing performed during the rollout of the systems and the money taken out of the equitation, many a time man has put greed first that has only lead to disaster.

    5. dave says:


      “mmWaves as I understand it are the same waves as used by microwave ovens, and they chemically change the food to cook it”

      1. Microwave ovens output a huge amount more power, focused on a small area.

      2. They do not chemically change the food. You can read about how they ACTUALLY work here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwave_oven#Principles.

      Why do people insist on spreading misinformation when the truth is so easily found? People who can’t be bothered to even do a simple bit of research shouldn’t be making claims about complex matters.

    6. Gary says:

      My Electric toaster chemically changes my bread into toast. It’s not much use for wireless communication mind you.

  4. Mike says:

    I think it’s fair to say mobile technology causes autism, it’s the only explanation I can think of to explain the existence of anti-5G folk.

    1. dave says:

      I know you’re trying to be funny but honestly you need a better understanding of what autism is and how it actually affects people.

      Somebody with autism is more likely to research actual facts than parrot the nonsense of the anti 5G brigade.

      It’s wrong to conflate autism with being mentally retarded.

  5. AnotherTim says:

    I have checked the 5G radiation in my area, and it is 0% of the relevant limits.

  6. Nighjel Farrajh says:

    That’s what THEY want US to BELIEVE! Everyone KNOWS that 5G is an EUSSR PLOT designed to render British men INFERTILE! WELL they’ve have to take MY MANHOOD out of my COLD DEAD FINGERTIPS!

    1. dave says:

      Yep, that’s why the 5G in the UK is different to the rest of the world…

      Some posts just prove that there should probably be a licensing scheme to get on the Internet, or at least for posting.

    2. The Facts says:

      How is it different?

    3. dave says:

      It isn’t, that’s the point.

  7. Vicktar Melldroo says:

    Too right Dave!

    Test #1 should be designed to weed-out the astonishingly credulous, #2 those with chronic humour impairments!

  8. John says:

    icnirp regs are only for thermal exposure. There is a great deal of evidence that even existing 2g and 3g cause cancer, for example, the NTP study quoted by Dr Sasco ex head of cancer research at WHO. Dr Sasco calls for a halt of 5G until further tests over several years is carried out…

    Tests that include non-thermal exposure which icnirp (who only provide guidelines and have a disclaimer on their website anyway) have no TV included in their guidelines…

  9. Des Morris says:

    ICNIRP guidelines are not fit for purpose.
    They are the equivalent of setting the speed limit outside of schools say, to 100mph….then saying everyone was doing 80mph when the traffic cops measured the cars outside the school.
    It’s a joke….We have many peer reviewed studies at much much lower frequencies, which caused diabetes in rats and tumours. We are being exposed to much higher frequencies and for much longer periods than an ICNIRP bogus test, over a 6min exposue, testing for thermal effects only, on a plastic adult head!

    You cannot test EMF’s on human in a lab because of the known dangers, and so if we cannot do that, because it is unethical, then we shouldn’t be exposing people to this tech 24/7…we already have mass population die offs of pollinators, birds and other wildlife, we’re next, wake up!..especially you Dave, cos the horsesheet you’re spewing is ridic.

    1. dave says:

      I’m sorry for speaking in fact rather than hyperbole.

      Time will prove me right.

    2. paul f says:

      oh look another flat earth nut with no sense of the world that is science and really life thoughts

  10. Tim Sandars says:

    Massive negligence and false reporting.

    What is happening is that OFCOM are receiving their guidelines from ICNIRP and testing only the field strength, and NOT the effects on the human body.

    ICNIRP sets the threshold at 10watts. They don’t cite where they got this number from.

    This is exceptionally high. The BioInitiative report found that health effects start at just 0.001 watts and even way below that.

    I am consistently proving that 4G is very bad for us and 5G takes it up at least double the intensity of 4G (and when we get 60GHz this will cause very serious disease very quickly). I do tests on the human body.

    I use heart rate variability tests, live blood samples and muscle testing and i’m about to do some thermal heat imaging too. These are the right tests to do: test on the human body.

    There is a massive amount of ignorance on this topic but please everyone realise that the only test that the phone industry does to ensure your ‘safety’ is this:

    they take a plastic model of a human body. Fill it with fake blood. THen they see whether any heat was transferred from the phone through the plastic skin into the fake blood.

    What’s missing? A heart.. a brain.. and any organ in the human body that relies on electricity to function.

    And what’s worse they haven’t done this on a 5G phone yet, as they admitted to Senator Blumenthal in US Congress. HIs summary was that ‘We are flying blind, as far as health and safety is concerned’. How does everyone feel about that?

    We are electrical beings and we respond to electrical current in phones and wireless radiation. That is a fact that 10,000+ peer reviewed tests on rats (with hearts and brains) have shown.

    Please understand these concepts more fully because everyone reading this is being affected right now by 4G and will be worse affected in the future.

  11. BH says:

    How are they testing up to 60GHz, when the measurement device (SRM-3006) used only covers up to 6GHz?

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