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Our rules for EME

We set rules on how radiocommunications devices and transmitters must function to keep electromagnetic energy (EME) at safe levels.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) says what is a safe amount of EME for people.

EME explained

Electromagnetic energy (EME) transports the signals that many devices need to function.

EME brings us radio and TV. It carries our phone conversations. We use it to microwave food, monitor aircraft and X-ray our bodies.

Devices differ in how much EME they receive or produce.

The Department of Communications has a YouTube video that tells you more about EME.

Safety for devices

We set rules to make sure that devices with integral antennas have safe EME levels.

These devices include:

  • mobile phones
  • wi-fi modems and routers
  • two-way radios
  • baby monitors
  • remote controls
  • smart meters

We say what the suppliers of these products must do before and after they supply their product.

Our rules are in the:

Safety for transmitters

Transmitters generally use and receive more EME than other devices. We have rules to make sure that transmitters are safe in the community.

Transmitters include:

  • mobile phone towers
  • NBN wireless towers
  • small cells that deliver 4G (and soon 5G) mobile broadband 
  • TV and radio broadcast towers
  • mobile and portable phones without integral antennas.

When a telecommunications carrier wants to build a new mobile phone tower, they must follow Industry code C564: 2018 mobile phone base station deployment and relevant  state/territory planning laws. The code aims to minimise EME exposure to the public.

You can complain if you think a carrier has not followed the code.

We put EME safety rules in the licences, including those used by carriers and broadcasters.

We tell operators that if anyone can get close to their transmitter, EME levels must be below ARPANSA’s Radiation Protection Standard (ARPANSA Standard).

Our rules are in the Radiocommunications Licence Condition (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 (Apparatus LCD).

We may inspect and audit transmitter operators to make sure they comply with our rules.

Suppliers of transmitters, including mobile and portable phones, must supply safe products under Australian law.

For a guide to small cells, see our fact sheet

RF exclusion zone calculator

The Apparatus LCD and the ARPANSA Standard allow licensees to calculate the RF exclusion zone for a transmitting antenna. The RF exclusion zone is an area where the EME levels may exceed the ARPANSA Standard reference levels.

To help licensees, we have developed a simple calculator using equations from the AS/NZS 2772.2 Standard.

Please note that the calculator: 

  • does not factor in environmental effects or losses in the system
  • assumes the transmitter always runs at 100 per cent power
  • has no option to input the antenna pattern.

If you want to calculate an exclusion zone specific to the radiation pattern of the antenna, please refer to the more advanced techniques in AS/NZS 2772.2 Standard.

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