Audit of mobile phone base stations - information sheet
This information leaflet provides details, background and registration information about Ofcom's surveys of radio emission levels near to mobile phone base stations.
Ofcom (the Office of Communications) is the communications industry regulator, with wide-ranging responsibilities across the UK's communications markets including managing the UK civil radio spectrum.
Between 2001 and 2012 Ofcom and its predecessor, the DTI Radiocommunications Agency (RA), conducted a programme of measurements showing that emission levels around mobile phone base stations were consistently found to be only a very small fraction of the safety levels for exposure published by the UK Health Protection Agency. Although the ongoing programme of measurements has now finished, Ofcom remains able to survey sites if requested to do so.
A form to request a survey may be found at https://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/base-station-audit. The emphasis of the program continues to be with schools and hospitals (as outlined in the Stewart Report) although we will consider requests for surveys in locations where there is unrestricted public access and concern about signal levels. Please note though that Ofcom's remit is only the measurement (not any wider interpretation) of field strengths, to ensure compliance with guidance published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
3. Health and Planning issues
The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP), also called the Stewart Group after its chairman Sir William Stewart, was established in April 1999 to examine the possible effects of mobile phones, base stations and transmitters on public health.
In May 2000 the IEGMP published a report recommending the establishment of an independent audit of base stations. In response the Government asked the RA to implement a national measurement programme, to ensure that emissions from mobile phone base stations do not exceed the ICNIRP guideline levels. Since 2001, we have funded and conducted a total of 724 surveys. The highest measurement recorded was 1/279th of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) safety threshold. No installation tested by us has exceeded 0.005% of the specified radiation safety limit. This programme was continued by Ofcom until 2012.
Ofcom does not have statutory responsibilities for health and is therefore unable to comment on such issues. Similarly, Ofcom does not have statutory responsibilities for local planning matters relating to mobile phone base stations and masts.
The Health Protection Agency Radiation Protection Division, (Tel: 020 7759 2700 / 2701, Fax: 020 7759 2733, e-mail: email@example.com, website: www.hpa.org.uk), has a statutory duty to give advice to Government on Electro-Magnetic-Fields (EMF) and health; this includes assessing the state of scientific knowledge and publishing guidelines for the safe exposure to EMF.
Contact details and websites for Government Departments and organisations dealing with these, and other related issues can be found in the Related Sites section on the Sitefinder website and general advice is published at Exposure to Electro Magnetic Fields and Masts and Planning.
4. The Survey
The surveys are a chargeable service. However, we recognise that there is still a general level of concern around emissions from mobile telephone masts, particularly near buildings such as schools and hospitals, about the perceived effect that they might have on the health of the public in their communities. For this reason, assessments for schools and hospitals are conducted on a charge free basis (subject to conditions).
Requests from Schools and Hospitals
We will, subject to resource availability, provide a Standard Survey (see next section below) free of charge in response to direct requests from schools and hospitals, where the radio mast is not installed on their site.
If the mast is installed on their site and they are receiving funding for it from a mobile network operator, the Standard Survey charge will apply.
Requests from Other Organisations/Individuals
We can offer two levels of survey:
- Measurements will be taken from three locations around the mast.
- Subject to operational constraints, we expect to report back to you within 3 months of the application being accepted.
- You will receive an 'ICNIRP Measurement' certificate at the completion of the work (Link to Attachment A).
- The cost of the Standard Survey is 425.20 (ex. VAT).
For those seeking a more comprehensive survey may request an Enterprise survey.
- Measurements will be taken at 10-15 locations around the radio mast.
- Subject to operational constraints we expect to carry out the measurements and provide a report to you within one month of the application being accepted.
- You will receive a report of the measurements taken (Link to Attachment B).
- The cost of the Enterprise Survey is 1103.20 (ex. VAT).
5. Survey Results
Anonymised survey results will, at our discretion, be made available on the Sitefinder portal http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/sitefinder/. Customers, other than schools and hospitals, may request for results to be withheld from publication. However please note that Ofcom must satisfy its legal obligations under Freedom of Information legislation and, if information is specifically requested, we may be required to disclose or publish any survey result.
All published results to date can be found here.
6. Further information
Background information about Sitefinder can be found at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/sitefinder including frequently asked questions, operator contact details and results from previous surveys/audits.
If the website does not provide an answer to your enquiry, please contact:
Ofcom Advisory Team
2a Southwark Bridge Road
Tel: 0300 123 3333
Fax: 0300 123 0811
Ofcom produces a range of information leaflets and other publications concerning the use of radio. These are available free of charge on our website, or hard copies can be ordered from the Ofcom Advisory Team.