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  • 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report

Mobile communications and health (EMF)

Electromagnetic fields (EMFs) 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 the EMFs employed do not present a problem for people or the environment when we use them in mobile communications.

The effects of electromagnetic fields img 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. We provide detailed information on the Group website on the latest technology and scientific risk assessments published by expert committees. To this end, we published a brochure titled “Fakten zu Mobilfunk und Gesundheit” (“Facts about mobile communications and health”) and last revised it in 2017. The document is available on our Group website.

Striving for secure mobile communications

Our contribution to the SDGs

We want to make our mobile communications infrastructure and our new products, as well as the processes on which they are based, as resource-efficient, secure 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 by external experts. In 2018 we once again submitted a current annual mobile communications expert report, coordinated by Deutsches Institut für Urbanistik (German Institute for Urban Studies), to the German Federal Government. According to the report, mobile communications expansion is progressing for the most part free of conflict. 95 percent of the municipalities surveyed said that they had had little or no controversial decision-making cases. The report was published by the German Federal Environment Ministry. What’s more, in collaboration with Telefónica, we also support the information portal www.informationszentrum-mobilfunk.de.

Our Group-wide EMF img 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:

EMF Policy

Transparency
Information
Participation
Promoting science & partnerships
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 database 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.

Promoting science & partnerships

Our guidelines call for promoting targeted research, scientific excellence, transparency, objectivity and intelligibility.

For more information, please click on the segments

We conduct ongoing reviews of compliance with our EMF Policy. The findings are used to improve individual aspects and develop solutions in different working groups such as our EMF Core Team and the EMF Technical Working Group.

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

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Cornelia Szyszkowitz

Evaluating and implementing the EMF Policy

We want to seamlessly implement our EMF img Policy throughout the Group. We help our national companies do this by providing specific tools. For example, we formulated standardized policies for funding research, for example, and published these on the Deutsche Telekom website. The national companies take these policies into account when formulating their own funding programs. We also rely on our national companies’ own initiative and encourage them to continue to improve their measures even after they have fully implemented the EMF Policy. The dialogue 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 reviews show us that the EMF Policy is being implemented consistently in all of our action areas. We are also working on expanding our country-specific activities. In 2018 we proactively addressed 5G technology. This involved carrying out measurements at the first 5G sites in Berlin.

Deutsche Telekom is continuously building small cells, an innovative, high-performance mobile communications technology. These small cells add additional capacity to our mobile communications network in places with high traffic volumes. Small cells generally emit weaker electromagnetic fields img than traditional macrocells as they are used in mobile communications networks. Due to the small distance, the cell phone’s transmission power can be reduced with small cells. Because cell phone transmission levels are often the main source of electromagnetic fields in our immediate environment, reducing these is a particularly effective way to reduce EMF exposure.

We have already been working with the state capital of Munich since 2016 on developing small cell technology paying particular attention to environmental factors such as the propagation of electromagnetic fields. A pilot experiment in 2016 has since led to a continuous exchange on processes for the responsible and environmentally conscious development of mobile technology. For example, RWTH Aachen carried out a study in 2017 on practical methods that can be used to assess the effect of small cells on people and the environment. The results of the study were presented to the city of Munich. 

In Austria, the citizens’ mobile communications forum gives interested citizens the opportunity to ask experts questions about mobile communications directly and online. The forum is an initiative sponsored by the industry association Forum Mobilkommunikation (FMK). Over time, it has grown into a knowledge platform containing answers to the most important questions regarding the topics of mobile communications technology and mobile communications and health.

Cornelia Szyszkowitz

Do you have questions on this topic?
Ask our expert:

Cornelia Szyszkowitz