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Safer surfing with 5G

On the occasion of the 58th IFA, BfS advocates prudent expansion of the new mobile communications generation

Year of issue 2018
Date 2018.08.30

Self-driving cars, voice-activated assistants, intelligent fridges – the IFA International Mobile Communications Exhibition from 31 August to 5 September 2018 in Berlin highlights how the internet interlinks our daily lives. The introduction of the new 5G mobile communications standard will develop and accelerate this trend and the number of transmitters and devices that generate electromagnetic fields is therefore also increasing.

According to the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), the current scientific findings on the effects of electromagnetic fields on people are also very relevant to 5G. "If the necessary infrastructure is expanded prudently, no health effects are to be feared from 5G," says President of the authority, Inge Paulini.

Limit values protect against possible health impacts

Basically, two aspects must be considered: the technical prerequisites - such as mobile transmitters and end devices - and increasing data transfer quantities. Many technical aspects of 5G are comparable with current mobile communication standards. Findings from the study, which investigates the possible health impacts of electromagnetic fields in the mobile network, can therefore be transferred for the main part to 5G.

When limit values are adhered to, current scientific knowledge suggests that no health-related effects can be expected. As regards the 5G plan to use additional frequency bands in the centimetre and millimetre wavelength ranges, there are very few investigation findings. The BfS has identified a research need here.

BfS advises prudent behaviour with mobile phones

In the view of the BfS, the long-term effects of mobile technology are particularly important, and assessments of these come with various uncertainties. "Basically, we advise prudent behaviour with mobile phones." For example, the SAR value should be considered when selecting a device. The lower the value, the lower the radiation from the device. 5G is already the fifth mobile communications generation and the SAR values of the available mobile models have fallen over time. However, Paulini emphasises "Keep sufficient distance between the Smartphone and your body and use speakerphone and headset options when making calls."

SAR values of various devices can be found on BfS website.

To be differentiated from the technical aspects is the expected increase in data transfer, which will also lead to a significant expansion of transmitters. Paulini says "Investigation is needed to establish how the further increases in data traffic will impact exposure. Particularly important here is the development of new antenna technology, which enables signals to be sent in a targeted way."

BfS information about mobile communications at the IFA

This year the 58th IFA is taking place under the motto "Consumer Electronics Unlimited". With its broad product range and a variety of innovations, the trade fair is a world leader in the field of domestic electronics and entertainment technology. The BfS is also represented at the IFA and its infomobile is providing information about the principles and effects of electromagnetic fields on people, in particular through the mobile network.

State of 2018.08.30

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