What do site providers need to know about 5G deployment?

What do site providers need to know about 5G deployment?

Monday, 02 March 2020

Read Cornerstone's latest article in the Estates Gazette where it talks about ICNIRP, exclusion zones and 5G.

As 5G technology roll-out continues through 2020, we will start to experience improved digital services in the UK. To make this possible, upgrades to existing sites and additional base stations will be required. The UK national government considers the rapid deployment of 5G to be critical to economic development.

Cornerstone, the UK’s leading mobile infrastructure services company, acquire, manage and maintain over 20,000 mobile phone base station sites across the UK. 

Our health and safety procedures during deployment and maintenance of these base stations were recognised when Cornerstone was awarded the OHSAS 18001, the International Standard for an effective Occupational Health and Safety Management System. 

The myth about exclusion zones, ICNIRP and 5G

Mobile phone base stations and devices use radio waves, high-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF), to transfer information and make communication possible. Radio waves are used for television and radio transmissions, by the emergency services, public utilities, and many more. They are used for a wide range of personal and commercial equipment such as navigational devices, WiFi equipment, and monitoring devices. EMFs are also produced by household electrical appliances like fridges, vacuum cleaners, or electric shavers. 

The guidelines that apply to the construction and operation of base stations were developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), following a comprehensive assessment of all the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The Government has adopted these in the UK, as well as many other countries. 

When deploying electronic communications apparatus, Cornerstone provides exclusion zones to site providers. Exclusion zones are the areas that are prohibited for workers to enter, due to the presence of mobile infrastructure. These exclusion zones ensure no one is subjected to excessive levels of radiation.

There has been some recent debate on how the addition of 5G technology to some sites may result in larger exclusion zones compared to 3G and 4G only sites, and what the impact is on occupational workers and the public. It’s important to recognise that the overall exposure to radio waves with 5G will be designed to remain well within the international health-related guideline levels.

In the UK, the statutory limit regarding exposure to electromagnetic fields is defined in the Control of Electromagnetic Field at Works Regulations 2016 (CEMFAW). It applies to all occupational exposure irrespective of work tasks, including the likes of caretakers, lift contractors, and air conditioning engineers.

Given the expertise required to assess radiofrequency exposure around antennas, site providers do not have liability for the health and safety of emissions. The operator or Cornerstone is the only organisation that has the expertise to manage those emissions on our network. 

Cornerstone will ensure that all sites in our network comply with the ICNIRP guidelines using our highly effective, 5G ready processes. We are committed to addressing 5G concerns and if you would like to find out more about Radio Frequency Compliance, visit: