Transparency about the possible effects of electromagnetic fields
New technological developments go hand in hand with questions and challenges. At VodafoneZiggo, we understand those concerns. Just like our customers, we want to be sure that both they and we can make use of our products and services, without having to worry about the possible consequences for our health. The advent of 5G is reviving questions regarding the health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) – also known as radio waves – emitted by mobile phones, Wi-Fi and antennas. The international standards body ICNIRP takes account of all of the possible effects on human health caused by radio waves at the frequencies used by mobile phones, including 5G. Following an extensive review of the best intelligence currently available, the ICNIRP confirmed in March 2020 that on the frequencies used by 5G, there are no harmful effects to human health, as long as exposure remains within the ICNIRP’s guidelines.
Internationally-imposed exposure limits
In the Netherlands, mobile providers have applied the internationally-imposed exposure limits for electromagnetic fields since 1999. These international guidelines were laid down by an independent organisation, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), were ratified in March 2020 and specified in accordance with the latest scientific research. In that regard, the ICNIRP took account of the higher frequencies being employed due to the use of new technologies (such as 5G) and new requirements were added in order to provide additional safeguards with regard to human health. The latest guidelines will be adopted by the Cabinet and by the European Commission in the form of legislation or European Union directives. At VodafoneZiggo, we always operate well below the maximum exposure limits. Radiocommunications Agency Netherlands (part of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy) supervises compliance with those limits. It carries out measurements and publishes the results of those measurements on an annual basis.
The power of the radio waves emitted by a smartphone is between 0.1 and 2 watts. Any phone sold in the EU must comply with the European exposure limits that apply in relation to electromagnetic fields. According to the World Health Organization of the United Nations, there is no scientific evidence to show that the use of mobile phones is harmful.
A 5G network
During pilot projects carried out using 5G, Radiocommunications Agency Netherlands and Eindhoven University of Technology carried out independent research into the electromagnetic fields involved. The resulting measurements show that the values of the electromagnetic fields generated using 5G are the same as the ones that are obtained when using 3G and 4G and that they are well within the international limits.
While constructing and maintaining our network, operators must comply with the exposure limits imposed by the ICNIRP. In 2002, the telecommunications sector entered into an Antennas Covenant with the government. This stipulates the conditions for the siting of antenna systems for mobile communications up to five metres in height. Together with other providers, we are members of Monet. This organisation coordinates the installation of antennas with the authorities and works with us in order to engage with communities and local residents if there is unease about the installation of masts.
Cooperation, knowledge sharing, research and internal checks
VodafoneZiggo cooperates with parties such as Kennisplatform EMV (Knowledge Platform EMF), the Municipal Health Service (GGD), Antennebureau (Antenna Agency), Radiocommunications Agency Netherlands, municipalities and governments to inform the public about electromagnetic fields, antennas and health aspects. Together with other telecommunications providers, we inform the public about electromagnetic fields and related topics via the sectoral association Monet. We also encourage independent scientific research into the possible effects of electromagnetic fields. We provide data to Utrecht University, which is taking part in an international study (COSMOS) into the long-term effects of electromagnetic fields over a period of 30 years.
VodafoneZiggo follows the Vodafone Group RF Management Policy Standard. In this policy, rules are set for managing potential health and safety risks relating to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF). These rules relate, among other things, to the management, design, purchase and installation of radio base stations and smaller mobile antennas. Sharing the locations of our equipment with other mobile operators is also included herein. In addition, the policy also applies in the case of mobile terminals bought in and supplied by VodafoneZiggo.
In order to verify compliance with this policy, an international policy compliance review is carried out once a year. Part of that evaluation consists of assessing whether the rules laid down in our policy are being observed and any possibilities for improvement are also discussed.
Score in internal policy compliance review EMV (score 1 to 5)