Mobile communications and health (EMF).

  • Online training for 5,200 store employees on communicating with customers about mobile communications and health.
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In order to be able to use mobile communications technology safely, users need to determine whether electromagnetic fields, like the ones produced by mobile communications devices, have negative health and environmental effects, and, if so, how this can be avoided. That's why thorough research on the effects of electromagnetic fields has been conducted over past few years. Findings show that the limit values for electromagnetic fields guarantee that the use of mobile communications devices is safe. Mobile communications technology and science are constantly evolving and advancing, however, posing new questions that require scientific clarification. Telekom makes sure that these questions are answered and has committed itself to sharing and discussing new findings with consumers and interested parties alike.

Management approach.

At Telekom we firmly believe that compliance with the applicable threshold values ensures mobile communications technology can be used without health concerns. This conviction is based on current findings of independent German and international expert committees that are continually evaluating all relevant studies and research results and reviewing security standards.

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. That is why we have committed ourselves to addressing the topic of mobile communications and health responsibly. In Germany these activities are based in particular on voluntary commitments by mobile communications providers and an agreement with local authorities' associations. Our Group-wide EMF Policy, which we adopted in 2004, is key in this process. The policy specifies standardized minimum requirements in the area of mobile communications and health, requirements that by far exceed those set forth by law. Our policy provides all of our national mobile communications 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 with support from Group headquarters.

Our EMF  Policy stipulates the following principles and measures:

Transparency: We promote an open approach to all issues involving mobile communications, particularly to issues involving health protection, network expansion and handling conflicts regarding site selection. All relevant information on our mobile communications systems is available to the public via various platforms such as base station databases.

Information: We encourage active communication on the topics of technology, security, research and health and provide consumers with information on the SAR levels [CR facts] of our end devices, making sure that such information is both accurate and easy to understand.

Participation: We rely on close collaboration and constructive dialog with all participants when it comes to network expansion. It is particularly important that we notify communities of our plans early on and involve them in the site selection process. 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.

Promoting research & partnership: We actively address issues involving research on mobile communications and health to support the advancement of mobile communications technology. Our activities in the area of research and science are designed in line with specified guidelines that require targeted research sponsorship, excellence in our field, transparency, objectivity and clarity. Our approach is twofold: On the one hand, our experts engage in regular dialog with scientific institutions and researchers to keep us up-to-date on the latest findings. On the other, we finance targeted, independent research to clarify unanswered scientific questions on the topic of mobile communications and health.

Implementation of our EMF Policy is regularly evaluated. We also monitor and systematically analyze relevant activities on a quarterly basis. The evaluation is used to improve individual aspects and develop solutions in different working groups such as the EMF  Core Team and the EMF  Technical Working Group.

Discussion and research status quo.

Current research on mobile communications and health focuses on the biological effects of very weak, low-frequency electromagnetic fields below admissible levels, such as those generated by cell phones, for example. One of the aspects under scrutiny is whether these very weak electromagnetic fields may have non-thermal effects leading to interference with brain waves or impairments to well-being.

There are differing opinions among researchers about the existence and health impact of non-thermal effects caused by EMFs. Based on the latest research, different expert groups believe that there is no hard evidence for health-related non-thermal effects despite the fact that extensive research has been done in this field. This has been confirmed by many expert groups and authorities, including the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) in its information pamphlet entitled "Forschung für sicheres Telefonieren" ("Research for secure mobile communication", in German) from 2013. Permissible levels, which have been defined based on thorough testing, and extensive research publications on the subject show that effects of electromagnetic fields on people have been meticulously researched in the past decades. The EMF portal run by RWTH Aachen University boasts 18,000 scientific publications on the subject.

An active analysis of research into mobile communications and health is a central activity in our efforts to further develop mobile communications technology at Deutsche Telekom. Deutsche Telekom's commitment to scientific research encompasses two areas: firstly, our experts aim to hold regular discussions on the current status of research with scientific institutions and researchers. Secondly, Deutsche Telekom directly and indirectly provides funding for research projects aimed at answering scientific questions on the topic of mobile communications and health. Our activities in the area of research and science are designed in line with the applicable guidelines that require targeted research sponsorship, excellence in our field, transparency, objectivity and clarity.

Evaluating the EMF Policy and implementing recommendations for improvement.

The results of our regular monitoring activities reflect our progress when it comes to putting our EMF  Policy fully into practice in all action areas. The policy was fully implemented in Croatia and the Federal Republic of Macedonia during the reporting period as well.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that our EMF  Policy is not static but leaves considerable room for flexibility. Within this framework, our national companies that have already fully implemented our EMF  Policy continue to improve their measures. The Telekom national companies share their experiences with each other as well as with other network providers and interact with associations, consumers, politicians and scientists. All of these activities play a central role in their efforts.

Our primary goal in 2014 is again to make sure the EMF  Policy is put into practice in its entirety at every national company. We will also continue in our efforts to further optimize current measures in each country. Some examples include better transparency about our mobile communications stations and more effective interaction with local communities.

Implementation of the EMF Policy.

During the reporting period, Telekom engaged in a number of measures at the international level to implement its EMF Policy. We have included a few examples of these activities in the table below:

Action areas National companyExamples of activities conducted during the reporting period
Transparency
Open dialog on all issues involved in mobile communications technology
  Deutsche Telekom Technology  
  • Provided information and discussed measurement results on the impacts of LTE on the human body in community workshops in seven German cities with 168 participants from the worlds of politics and administration
  • The format was generally well received
 
  Cosmote Greece  
  • Increased number of measurement stations featuring Pedion24 systems from 10 to 210
  • Measurements made every six minutes, results available at www.pedion24.gr
 
  T-HT Hrvatski Telekom   
  • EMF  measurements at almost 1,000 base stations conducted by a lab authorized by the Ministry of Health to issue operating permits
 
Information
Providing clear, accurate information forms the basis of being able to discuss and address the topic effectively
  Cosmote Greece  
  • Telekom experts presented information on EMFs to around 500 students
 
  T-HT Hrvatski Telekom   
  • Gave different presentations to employees and 100 new colleagues who act as multipliers of information on the topic of EMFs and health
 
  Deutsche Telekom Technology  
  • Conducted online training for around 5,200 store employees on talking to customers about SAR and the topic of mobile communications and health
  • Developed and made new printed information available to customers (including fact sheets on the latest research and flyers on EMFs produced by smartphones and WLAN)
 
Participation
Collaborated closely and engaged in constructive dialog with communities
  Deutsche Telekom Technology  
  • Settled eleven disputes with communities regarding antenna sites through clarification efforts
  • Participated in the Round Table on Electromagnetic Fields (RTEMF) in May and November 2013
  • Three meetings with local authorities’ associations for more effective collaboration and participation in network expansion activities
 
Research and partnerships
Sponsoring research as prevention
  T-HT Hrvatski Telekom   
  • Ministry of Health verified positive findings of a study on compliance with legal limits at all 1,071 antenna sites monitored
  • Began a study on legal limits at LTE sites using different mobile communications technologies
 
  Deutsche
Telekom Technology
 
  • Ongoing support (1) of research projects in collaboration with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment and the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection as well as (2) the MOBI-KIDS study, (3) the EMF  database operated by the Research Center for Bioelectromagnetic Interaction and (4) the Science Forum EMF.