The government of Belgium’s Wallonia region has given the go-ahead for an increase in radiation limits for 5G, but is sticking to its guns on health concerns about millimetre wave.
The powers that be are not scaremongering on mmWave as such. It’s just that the science is lacking, they say. That is, there isn’t enough hard information on the impact of mmWave on health, therefore they have opted for what they term “the principle of precaution.”
The regional government hasn’t exactly thrown caution to the wind on radiation standards either.
It confirmed on Friday that, based on the recommendations of an expert panel, the limit on the emissions from radio masts using 900 MHz frequencies will be set at 9.2 volts per meter per operator, up a maximum of double that, or 18.4 V/m, if multiple operators are using the same site. With shared mast usage being pretty much a given for 5G in most places, that second figure is the important one here.
“This limit makes it possible to limit the real and cumulative exposure of citizens to the radio waves,” the government said, in a statement.
The new limit brings Wallonia broadly into line with the Flemish region, but still leaves Belgium with significantly stricter radiation rules than the rest of Europe.
“By way of comparison, this limit corresponds to one-twentieth of the limit recommended and applied in the vast majority of European countries,” the government said. “The level of environmental and health protection would therefore remain very high but would nevertheless allow the development of 5G.”
Belgium’s famously cautious approach to radiation emissions means the country still has little in the way of 5G services. Incumbent Proximus, for example, launched a light version of 5G as long as two years ago in a handful of municipalities in Wallonia, but caved to pressure from health-conscious citizens concerned about the emissions from its masts and pulled the plug in some. However, it won provisional rights to 3.6 GHz-3.8 GHz spectrum that summer and rolled out 5G in parts of Antwerp, Ghent and Haasrode in the Flanders half of the country before the end of the year. It is building its 5G presence, but the radiation issue has rumbled on throughout Belgium – in Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels region – and its coverage map remains patchy.