NBN Fixed Wireless Base Stations and Health
National Broadband Network (NBN) base stations use electromagnetic radiation to provide high speed broadband services to the community. The highest values of the radiofrequency electromagnetic energy (RF EME) that the public would be exposed to from the NBN base stations that are currently planned are less than 1/100 of the Australian public exposure limit. This means that the highest exposures are well below the levels at which any harmful effects are known to occur.
The 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 RF electromagnetic radiation (EMR), also called electromagnetic energy (EME), in the 2.3 GHz band to communicate between NBN base stations and small rooftop installations on residences and business premises.
Wireless base stations used for communications purposes, such as the NBN fixed wireless systems, are regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The base stations must be operated in accordance with the ACMA Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2003. These licence conditions make mandatory the limits in the ARPANSA RF Standard which sets limits for human exposure to RF fields from all sources, including mobile phone and NBN base stations.
The ARPANSA RF 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. It is the assessment of ARPANSA and other national and international health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), that there are no established adverse health effects below current exposure limits. The standard is intended to protect people of all ages and health status.
The maximum levels of exposure of RF EME from the 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 (RFNSA) website, www.rfnsa.com.au. The NBN sites may be located by searching by postcode or town.
For a typical 40 m high NBN base station, the highest exposure levels at ground level in the surrounding area are approximately 0.0004 watt/m² (0.04 µW/cm²) or less than 1/25,000 of the ARPANSA public exposure limit. This means that the highest exposure levels at ground level in the surrounding area are well below the known safe exposure limits of the ARPANSA RF Standard. There are no established health effects from these very low levels of RF EMR.
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.
NBN base stations use electromagnetic radiation to provide high speed broadband services to the community. The base stations use similar technology to 4G mobile phones and produce very low exposures to EMR (or EME) in the surrounding area, even very close to the installation. There are no established health effects from these very low levels of RF EMR.