Monday, 16 December 2019 10:14

Govt announces $9m to quell health fears over telco networks Featured

Govt announces $9m to quell health fears over telco networks Image by Ria Sopala from Pixabay

The Federal Government has announced a sum of $9 million to build public confidence in the safety of telecommunications networks, presumably in reaction to the large number of submissions to a 5G inquiry that expressed fears about the alleged health hazards of 5G networks.

A total of 354 submissions was received by the House of Representatives standing committee before submissions closed on 1 November and only a handful went beyond listing what the writers claimed to be the harmful health effects of 5G.

The inquiry held its first hearing in Southport, Queensland, on 19 November. A second was held in Canberra on 6 December.

In a statement issued on Monday, the government said the money was meant "to address misinformation about electromagnetic energy emissions which has caused concern in some parts of the community".

It said the new initiatives would include research and public education.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said: "The rigorous safety standards for mobile networks and devices in Australia draw on extensive scientific research into EME emissions, globally and in Australia, over many decades.

"Emissions from mobile networks and devices in Australia typically fall below the regulated limits by factors of a hundred or more. EME levels from mobile networks and devices are typically at similar levels to familiar household devices such as microwave ovens and baby monitors.

“The safety standards for 5G networks are consistent with those applicable to early generations of mobile technology – even though 5G networks typically use radio signals which are lower power and over more tightly targeted areas than earlier generation networks.

“These standards have been developed with expert advice from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, drawing in turn on work by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection and the World Health Organisation.

“The enhanced EME program will make sure all Australians have access to clear, reliable and reputable information so they can take advantage of new technologies like 5G – and feel empowered to do so safely.”

The mobile industry lobby group, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, welcomed the announcement.

AMTA chief executive Chris Althaus said: "AMTA, on behalf of the mobile telecommunications industry, welcomes the government’s announcement of increased investment in scientific research and further public education to help in building community confidence around 5G safety.

"We are pleased that the government recognises the importance of 5G technology and the need to address misinformation about electromagnetic energy (EME) which has caused concerns in some parts of the community.

"5G, the 5th generation of mobile networks, is a significant evolution from today’s 4G networks. It has been designed to meet the very large growth in demand for data and connectivity in today’s modern society, enabling enhanced mobile broadband, instantaneous connectivity to billions of devices, the Internet of Things and tomorrow’s innovations.

"Where we can, AMTA and industry will support the government with its enhanced EME safety program and its efforts to raise awareness around credible research to maintain high levels of public confidence in the health and safety of 5G mobile networks."

A Telstra spokesman said the government's move was a positive one. "We know there are people and communities with questions about 5G and EME levels as it is rolled out and we welcome the government's investment in helping to keep people informed about its safety," he added.

"We have done our own extensive testing of 5G and found EME levels to be well below the safety limits set by the relevant authorities."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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