BR and EMF

Business Radio and Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF) 

Initially as a result of the deployment of 5G services, there is a heightened awareness and public concern over the effects of exposure of the public to Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF). 

This is not a new subject, there was a substantial body of work conducted, leading up to the initial ICNIRP Guidelines of 1998.  Since then, the work has continued.  A revised set of guidelines was issued in 2020 [link].   For the frequency ranges that business radio uses, the Reference Level is substantially the same as for the 1998 Guidelines. 

The 2020 Guidance introduction starts: 

THE GUIDELINES described here are for the protection of humans exposed to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in the range 100 kHz to 300 GHz.  

These guidelines therefore provide “Reference Levels” that indicate safe levels of exposure.  They are based on extensive medical research. 

The reference levels relate to identified medical effects, not radiocommunications.  They are therefore higher than are used in sensitive Business Radio solutions.  Business radio is relatively low power, used for operations and so not used in places where there is a possibility of prolonged public exposure and used intermittently when there is an actual operational need. 

Nevertheless, for many years, in common with other radio systems, business radio systems have been subject to legislation requiring compliance to safety matters, including exposure to electro-magnetic fields with the limits being set by the ICNIRP Guidelines.  Because of the factors above, the systems are compliant. 

Recently Ofcom has issued a Statement on a new policy to have a condition of the radio spectrum licence that specifically calls for compliance. 

Clearly, this is not felt to represent any cause to change the solutions technically as they already comply under the previous regulatory regime.  However, it does require the industry to be able to present the necessary evidence of compliance if asked to do so by Ofcom Enforcement officers.  This is further detailed in the associated Enforcement Statement. 

The FCS and Ofcom have been in discussions regarding a calculated approach to compliance.  This is necessary because the radio spectrum licence must be appliedfor in advance of the system being implemented.  Thus, a measurement approach is not possible at the time of the application for an assignment because the system will not exist at that time. 

The FCS notes that, due to the low powers and other factors as stated above, the distance from the antenna at which there is any possibility of exceeding the ICNIRP Reference Levels is small, even for the highest categories of business radio transmissions; a few centimetres.  The general public will not get that close to these systems.

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