The ACMA and EME

The ACMA is responsible for regulating radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) for consumer devices (for example, mobile phones) and telecommunications facilities (for example, mobile phone towers). To make sure EME exposure is kept low, the ACMA applies the ARPANSA EME exposure limits contained in the Radiation Protection Standard for Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 3 kHz to 300 GHz (2002)  (the ARPANSA Standard). 

The ACMA is not an expert body on the possible health effects of human exposure to EME and is not responsible for investigating possible health effects.

How does the ACMA regulate EME for consumer devices such as mobile phones?

The ACMA regulates EME from consumer devices such as mobile phones, baby monitors, cordless phones and smart meters with inbuilt antennas through the Radiocommunications (Compliance Labelling - Electromagnetic Radiation) Notice 2014 (the EME Labelling Notice) and the Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Radiation-Human Exposure) Standard 2014 (the Human Exposure Standard).

Examples of how the ACMA regulates EME from consumer devices are available for mobile phonesWi-Fi and smart meters.

How does the ACMA regulate EME for telecommunications facilities such as towers?

The ACMA regulates EME from mobile base stations (towers) by imposing conditions on the radiocommunications licences it issues to mobile telecommunications carriers. The ACMA imposes licence conditions through the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 (Apparatus LCD). Under the conditions, mobile telecommunications carriers must ensure that EME exposure from a transmitter does not exceed the levels set in the ARPANSA Standard.

Examples of how the ACMA regulates EME from telecommunications facilities are available for mobile phone base stations and NBN wireless base stations.

What are the consultation requirements for the installation of telecommunications facilities?

A licensed carrier is authorised under Schedule 3 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 to install low-impact facilities without seeking state, territory or local government planning approval. These are facilities that have a low visual impact and are less likely to raise significant planning, heritage or environmental concerns. Low-impact facilities are specified in the Telecommunications (Low-Impact Facilities) Determination 2018.

A carrier installing a low-impact facility must comply with the requirements in the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2018. This includes:

  • notifying landowners and occupiers before installing a facility
  • complying with any relevant standards or codes registered with the ACMA.

A person operating a telecommunications facility must also ensure the facility complies with the EME public exposure limits in the ARPANSA Standard.

The Industry Code C564:2018 Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment, developed by Communications Alliance, sets out the requirements for industry consultation with the community about the potential location of mobile phone towers. The code also requires carriers to produce an Environmental EME Report for new or upgraded mobile phone base stations. The code is available on the Communications Alliance website and the ACMA website.

For more information about telecommunications facilities, refer to our fact sheet on network facilities.

What advice does the ACMA have for people worried about EME exposure?

The ARPANSA Standard takes into account uncertainties in the scientific knowledge by including safety factors in the EME exposure limits and a requirement to minimise exposure for the general public.

The ACMA regulations have a safety margin, which is between the limits set in the ARPANSA Standard and typical operating levels of communications devices and facilities. Typical operating levels are less than a few per cent of the ARPANSA exposure limits.

Find out more about EME and health.

Does the ACMA have information on specific devices and telecommunications facilities?

Communications devices and facilities that use EME include mobile phones, garage door openers, telecommunication base stations, baby monitors, cordless phones, smart meters, Wi-Fi, microwave ovens, television and radio broadcasting transmitters and radar facilities.

Devices and telecommunications facilities that are currently the focus of community interest include: 

Read more about the ACMA’s EME compliance strategy.

Last updated: 25 July 2019