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Low RF EMF limits and their effects on MNOs

Roberto Kompany Senior Analyst, Research

"Mobile operators in countries with low RF EMF limits will struggle to deliver sufficient 4G capacity and deploy 5G using massive-MIMO antennas."

Low regulatory limits for electromagentic field (EMF) emissions will jeopardise mobile coverage and increase deployment costs for mobile operators. Furthermore, massive-MIMO antennas for the 5G era will use beamforming and beam steering to deliver mobile signal to user devices, and therefore the same EMF measurement methodology that is used for passive antennas is not appropriate.

This report provides:

  • an analysis of the challenges faced by mobile network operators (MNOs) in countries where regulators have imposed low radio frequency (RF) EMF limits
  • gudiance for regulators on why they should revisit these limits and work towards increasing them to match those set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)
  • information for vendors about the importance of AI and self-optimising network (SON) solutions for improving the management of the high number of beams that will exist when 5G massive-MIMO antennas are rolled out
  • information for MNOs about why they should shut down legacy 2G and 3G networks.