Electromagnetic fields (EMF ) are a prevalent element in our connected world, even if we are not able to perceive them directly. Their effects on our health remain a topic of discussion. It is very important to make sure that they do not present a problem for people or the environment when we use them in mobile communications.
The effects of electromagnetic fields have been thoroughly researched over past decades in numerous scientific studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) analyzes the findings of scientific research and recently made a statement regarding the results in October 2014. In its statement the World Health Organization concludes that the current threshold values for electromagnetic fields ensure that mobile communications technology can be used safely but that further research is required.
Deutsche Telekom has made a commitment to actively address scientific research on mobile communications and health, and provides detailed information on the Group website regarding the latest technology and scientific risk assessments published by expert committees and organizations.
Our goal is to make our mobile communications infrastructure and our new products, as well as the processes on which they are based, as resource-efficient, environmentally friendly and safe for health as possible. In Germany these activities are based in particular on voluntary commitments by mobile communications providers and an agreement with local authorities' associations. Compliance with these voluntary commitments is reviewed every two years. The German federal government's Information Centre for Mobile Communications e.V. (IZMF) published an extensive expert report on the topic in May 2014.
Our Group-wide EMF Policy, which we adopted in 2004, plays a pivotal role. The policy specifies standardized minimum requirements in the area of mobile communications and health, requirements that by far exceed those set forth by national laws. Our policy provides our national companies with a mandatory framework that makes sure that the topic of mobile communications and health is addressed in a consistent, responsible way throughout the Group. All of our national companies have officially accepted the EMF Policy and implemented most of the required measures.
Our EMF Policy stipulates the following principles and measures:
- Transparency: We place importance on discussing issues involved in mobile communications openly. We make all relevant information regarding our mobile communications equipment in Germany accessible to the public, e.g., on the EMF databases operated by the German Federal Network Agency.
- Information: We provide consumer information that is easy to understand and pursue a fact-based, sound information policy. On our Group website we provide the latest information to those interested. We also provide our customers with information on the SAR levels of their devices. In addition, customers can get information on SAR levels at many of our shops, via our free environmental hotline or via e-mail.
- Participation: We rely on close collaboration and constructive dialog with all those involved, including communities, when it comes to network expansion. Our goal is to find amicable solutions and negotiate acceptable compromises, which can only be achieved by responding fairly to critical arguments and being ready to learn from mistakes.
- Research and partnerships: Our guidelines call for funding targeted research, scientific excellence, transparency, objectivity and intelligibility.
We conduct quarterly reviews of compliance with our EMF Policy. The findings are used to improve individual aspects and develop solutions in different working groups such as the EMF Core Team and the EMF Technical Working Group.
Evaluating and implementing the EMF Policy
Our goal is to put our EMF Policy into practice seamlessly throughout the Group. We help our national companies do this by providing specific tools. We developed standardized policies for funding research, for example, and published these on the Deutsche Telekom website in November 2014. Our national companies are using these policies in their funding programs. We also rely on the independent initiative of our national companies and encourage them to continue to improve their measures even if they have already effectively introduced the EMF Policy. The dialog conducted by the Deutsche Telekom national companies with other network providers and with consumers, politicians and scientists plays a central role in this context.
Regular monitoring activities show us that the EMF Policy is being implemented in all of our action areas. We also continue to optimize current measures being employed at national-company level.
- T-Mobile Austria is working to improve transparency regarding EMF . Within the scope of these efforts, for example, the Austrian national company is helping the Austrian industry association, Forum Mobilkommunikation, create classroom material for schools.
- We trained around 5,700 employees in Germany in 2014 on consumer protection/SAR levels so that we could provide our customers with more information on mobile communications and health at our Telekom shops.
- We also support the efforts of the Information Centre for Mobile Communications (IZMF) to provide the population and stakeholders with information on EMF in Germany. During the reporting period, IZMF offered training measures including a certified online program for doctors. The focal topic was "Mobile communications from the perspective of doctors and patients."
- Cosmote Greece began offering information on SAR levels at shops for the first time during the reporting period.