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Telecoms Providers

The Commission has adopted the Implementing Regulation on small-area wireless access points, or small antennas, which are crucial for the timely deplo
DIGIBYTE 30/06/2020 00:00:00

The Commission has adopted the Implementing Regulation on small-area wireless access points, or small antennas, which are crucial for the timely deployment of 5G networks that are delivering high-capacity and increased coverage as well as advanced connection speeds. The Regulation specifies the physical and technical characteristics of small cells for 5G networks. It aims to help simplify and accelerate 5G network installations, which should be facilitated through a permit-exempt deployment regime, while ensuring that national authorities keep oversight.

5G will transform our economy and society. The "fifth generation" of wireless technology will deliver high capacity, high-speed and low-latency (quick network response) services across vital sectors. The Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, stated,

"5G wireless networks represent a pillar of socio-economic development for Europe as they will enable new services in health and care, energy, transport, education and many other areas. Their importance is even more evident today as they will play a key role in our recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Together with Member States, we must pave the way for the timely rollout of 5G, without restrictive administrative barriers, which will in turn create significant demand from our industry and will amplify European innovations and competitiveness."


The "fifth generation" of telecommunication systems, or 5G, are one of the most critical building blocks of our economy and society. 5G will support, amongst others, the digitalisation of the healthcare sector. Most importantly, medical treatment will be more accessible, quicker and more precise. With 5G, healthcare systems can enable mobile networks to handle remote patient monitoring, as well as efficient and simplified collaboration between medical specialists. In parallel, this new technology will transform cities, making them more sustainable and safer. It will make clean energy resources easier to manage and enable autonomous driving, where vehicle-to-vehicle communication will increase safety and reduce accidents. In addition, 5G will open the way for innovative solutions in industry and manufacturing: optimising processes and enabling interconnected and remotely controlled equipment.   

On the Implementing Regulation
A fully-fledged 5G rollout relies on denser and smarter wireless networks of small cells, or antennas. The Commission Implementing Regulation defines the physical and technical characteristics of those small cells, which are exempted from any individual town planning permit or other individual prior permits. The definition of small cell in the implementing regulation sets tight limits in terms of size and power of those installations.

The Implementing Regulation ensures public health protection from exposure to electromagnetic fields as well as small cells visual integration. Small-area wireless access points should assure the protection of people’s health and safety, by adhering to strict EU exposure limits, which, for the general public, are 50 times lower than what international scientific evidence would suggest as having any potential effect on health. To ensure wide public acceptance for the measure, the Regulation addresses the visual appearance of small cells to avoid visual clutter. It lays out the specifications for a coherent and integrated installation, while providing national authorities with the means to oversee deployment of small cells. 

Reflecting this, and to accelerate the rollout of this important new technology in the EU, small antennas should be exempted from any individual town planning permit or other individual prior permits. Permits may still be required for deployment on buildings or sites protected in accordance with national law or where necessary for public safety reasons. The Regulation allows for broader national measures in support of straightforward small cell deployment. It also foresees future amendments to incorporate the latest technological advances.

On small cells
The new small cells (antennas) will be less visible (either fully integrated and invisible to the general public or, if visible, occupy a maximum space of 30 litres). Small cells will produce less electromagnetic emissions. In fact, they could be compared to WiFi installations. Small cells will use lower power levels and therefore create lower exposure levels than existing 4G infrastructure. The overall exposure with the rollout of 5G networks will therefore be comparable to existing levels – it will be well below the strict EU exposure limits, which, for the general public, are 50 times lower than what international scientific evidence would suggest as having any potential effect on health. Public health protection is ensured by the strict exposure limits set out in Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC, which sets exposure limits at 50 times lower than international scientific recommendations that ensure public safety.

The Commission Implementing Regulation was supported by a study and considered input obtained from two open public consultations: in 2019 and in 2020. The Commission also gathered and considered the views and relevant written comments expressed by Member States within the Communications Committee and held two inter service consultations.

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