We establish and maintain RF safety compliance at mobile network sites.


Modern mobile communication networks typically consist of thousands of transmitters and are not static in design or layout. A process is therefore required for establishing RF safety compliance at all base transmitter stations (BTS) in a network.

This process should be designed to cater for revisiting and management of sites in the network when a site is modified to a new configuration of technology or antennas. The process can include very basic checks for easily assessable sites such as free standing masts. More comprehensive assessments that might include measurements or computer simulations are required at more complex sites such as rooftops with shared RF services.

Network providers maintain large databases of information describing the physical location and transmission entities, as required for compliance assessment. Along with tried and tested efficient protocols for the establishment and maintenance of RF safety compliance in a network, Alphawave Mobile Network Services has the know-how and tools to integrate these databases with information gathered by surveying teams at BTS sites.

Measures required for compliance

The EMF guidelines most widely accepted in industry for the assessment of compliance are set and maintained by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The ICNIRP guidelines specify which levels of exposure are safe for humans to operate in and are referred to by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Compliance with EMF guidelines can usually be established by satisfying three requirements.

  • Identification of areas of non-compliance through generic rules, computer simulation or RF measurements.
  • Implementation of reasonable and practicable administrative controls for areas of non-compliance.
  • Monitoring and documentation of compliance status and control measures.

Why EMF Compliance?

It is important for a mobile communications network provider to maintain compliance with established international EMF health and safety guidelines. Good corporate governance as well as OH&S legislation requires that all employees work in a safe environment. BTS sites are not a huge health risk due to the relatively low power transmitters typically used in a network.

Nonetheless, it is relatively easy to ensure and document full compliance in a network if established tools are employed.


Services

Alphawave has over the past few years trained more than 2500 individuals, working for various network operators, on RF Awareness. A basic RF Awareness Training course is presented to ensure all staff working at BTS sites understand the risks of RF exposure and know which precautions to take to prevent overexposure.

The basic course is customised to include details of, amongst others, the operator-specific site access arrangements and RF signage.

A medical screening is also included in the RF Awareness training courses before staff may be classified as RF workers. Courses are presented by staff with the relevant qualifications in electromagnetic engineering and with specific industry experience in human exposure to RF. More advanced courses are also available for people requiring a more detailed technical understanding of EMF exposure.

Alphawave offers detailed and accurate 3D modelling and simulation services for more complex base stations where generic rules are not sufficient. All available network operator information such as blueprints and photographs, are utilised to construct representative 3D models. If a significant amount of information is required over and above the data provided, a surveying team is sent out to gather all relevant base station information.

High quality software tools are then used to construct a full 3D CAD representation of the base station and perform electromagnetic simulations. Assessments are based on the resulting simulations and implementation of compliance measures ensues.

The whole process is documented and all relevant information is stored on a central accessible database. After the assessment, customised compliance reports can be generated that include 3D views and the base station can be certified as ICNIRP compliant.

Alphawave is an industry leader in performing and documenting RF measurements and have performed more than 10 000 RF surveys throughout Southern Africa and abroad. Measurements are performed by experienced staff following protocol prescribed by international standards.

Alphawave uses high quality selective radiation meters (SRM) with integrated GPS systems, combined with specialised database and integration software to accurately perform and document measurements. Measurements are associated with comments, location information and photographs taken on site. All the data described above is included in the site information database. To achieve this requirement an automated measurement process was designed to enable easy and fast operation of equipment, while ensuring accurate data capturing.

Report templates are in place to facilitate efficient and semi-automated report generation. Report contents are in line with international standards requirements and typically include measured results, photos, comments, equipment information and maps – all customised to meet a client’s specific needs.

After the compliance status of a base station is determined through generic rules, numerical computations or RF measurement control measures can be implemented, if required, to ensure RF compliance. Apart from the RF Awareness Training service and EMF compliance assessment tools Alphawave also offers compliance implementation services.

These services are usually performed in consultation with mobile operators and property owners. Alphawave has a wealth of experience in the efficient and cost effective implementation of RF safety measures that typically includes access control, RF signage or re-engineering.

The compliance process is not complete until all assessments and implementation actions have been documented and recorded. Alphawave offers a semi-automated report generation and certification service.

Various customised reports can be generated containing all base station information, antenna information, 3D models, images as well as RF measurement data associated with GPS positions, pictures and maps. After the full assessment process and implementation of compliance measures, the BTS site can be certified and a customised certificate is issued. All reports and site certificates are in pdf format and are easily accessible through a web-based EMF database.

Alphawave Mobile Network Services is part of the Alphawave Group. Click here to view the Group website.