Society
Mobile phones, antennas and health

Mobile phones, antennas and health

Some people worry about the effect of mobile phones and masts on their health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there is no conclusive scientific proof that radio signals from base stations and wireless networks and mobile phones have a negative health effect. We want our products and services to be safe and our customers to be able to use their mobile phone and wireless devices without having to worry. That is why we collaborate on an (inter)national level with various organizations when it comes to research and public information.

Antenna sites
As VodafoneZiggo we understand the concerns and questions people may have when antennas are (re)built. At the same time we aim – from a collective interest – for a high-quality network with national coverage, to ensure we can all be reached, preferably everywhere. Such an evenly distributed antenna park comes with building and comment procedures, as well as safety and exposure limits that we adhere to. The exposure limits are determined by an international group of independent scientists, called the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The Netherlands applies these limits on the advice of the Council of the European Union. The ICNIRP regularly checks whether the limits need to be adjusted.

Cooperation and dialogue
When building and maintaining our mobile network, cooperating with other parties is of the utmost important to minimize nuisance for local residents. Together with other providers we are united in Monet. This organization coordinates the location of antenna sites with the authorities. Together with Monet, we also enter into a dialogue with communities if the location of a mast leads to unrest. Since 2002, the industry and the authorities have been bound by the Antenna Covenant. This covenant contains the conditions for antenna sites for mobile communications up to five metres in height that can be erected without a building permit. For more information please visit the central government site www.antennebureau.nl where you can also find details about information meetings regarding this topic.

Using a mobile phone
When using a mobile phone, the human body absorbs part of the radio signals. The energy radiated by radio waves of a mobile phone, however, is extremely low (between 0.1 to 2 Watt maximum), resulting in negligible heating of the human body. According to the WHO there is no conclusive scientific evidence that this is harmful. If people want to reduce the level of radio signals when using a mobile phone, the World Health Organization has the following advice: call hands-free, limit the number and length of the calls and use the phone in areas with good reception. When reception is good, a mobile phone needs less transmission power to convey the radio signal to the nearest antenna. This also exemplifies the importance of an evenly distributed antenna park: with sufficient antennas within reach, phones need ‘less transmission power’, decreasing the level of exposure to radio waves.

5G technology
At the introduction of 5G – as the successor to the current 4G network – health aspects are given considerable attention. The 5G spectrum, however, does not significantly differ from what is currently in use. On the one hand, 5G will result in increased data usage and consequently, increased exposure to radio waves, but on the other hand, the advanced 5G techniques will reduce exposure for users by a more precise beaming of radio waves. The exposure limits apply to 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and also 5G. VodafoneZiggo will adhere to them. For more information about 5G please visit www.kennisplatform.nl/wat-is-5g/

Risks to children
According to a majority of scientists, backed by the WHO, there is no evidence so far that radio frequencies of mobile phones or base stations form an additional risk to children. Since the current generation of children and young people is likely to use mobile phones over a longer period of time, more research is being conducted into the use of mobile phones at various ages and into long-term usage. Vodafone will closely monitor the results of this research and the viewpoints of organizations like the World Health Organization on this subject.

Continuous research
We actively contribute to international and national scientific (independent) research into possible consequences of electromagnetic fields. Like the international COSMOS research in the Netherlands by the JIRAS institute of the University of Utrecht (duration 30 year) into possible long-term effects of electromagnetic fields. We provide the data essential for conducting the research.

Public information
Since 2015, the telecom industry has been supporting the Knowledge Platform EMV (Electromagnetic Fields and Health). This is an independent information centre that gathers all knowledge of the RIVM, TNO, KEMA, the Joint Health Services, the Radio communications Agency and ZonMw with regard to electromagnetic fields. The goal is to interpret scientific information about the topic and make it available.

More information about the working of mobile phones, our global policy and scientific research can be found on the website of Vodafone Group.