Cellnex's infrastructures consist of towers located throughout the territories in which Cellnex operates. The greatest impact of these towers is visual, since they can hardly be integrated into nature. Even so, as fixed structures occupying little space, it is possible for other economic activities to develop around them, for example agriculture.
However, one of the concerns of society is the possible impact of electromagnetic emissions caused by the towers. In this regard, the European Commission adopted an Implementing Regulation on physical and technical characteristics of small-area wireless access points, specifically their volume, weight, visual impact and emission power. Since Cellnex follows all the existing recommendations, the roll-out of 5G networks will not have a negative effect on people’s health.
The GSMA estimates that in 2025 there will be around 24.6 billion connected devices (in 2019 the same source estimates 12 billion), which implies that, on the one hand, there will be a growing demand for mobile data which Cellnex estimates will grow by 600% over the next five years, and on the other hand, the need to connect an increasing number of devices and objects, which Cellnex estimates will grow to about one million connected devices per square kilometre.
In this way, the 5G, or "fifth generation" of telecommunication systems, will be one of the most critical building blocks of the digital economy and society in the next decade, both in Europe and in the world.
The wide-scale deployment of 5G communication networks and the use cases activated by 5G could generate a significant economic and social value for society. An IHS Markit study estimates that $13.2 trillion in global economic value will be made possible by 2035, generating 22.3 million jobs in the 5G global value chain alone.
In this context, Cellnex is a key player in the development and implementation of 5G networks, as it operates upstream in the supply chain, providing the enabling infrastructure, with particular attention to the aspects of sustainability and futureproof development of technological solutions for the services that will constitute the ecosystem of reference for the digitalisation of industrial processes and services, both in the public and private sectors.
In short, as a leader in telecommunication infrastructures in Europe, Cellnex plays an essential role in the deployment of 5G in Europe and therefore in economic development. 5G could be a catalyst for socio-economic growth and will bring a whole series of new use cases, applications and services that current technologies cannot provide, thanks to its new features:
Moreover, 5G can help to optimise and develop other technologies by boosting networks and Internet architectures in emerging areas such as Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The introduction of 5G will also lead to more versatile equipment, which, compared to previous generations of communication systems, will allow scalability and reliability suitable for serving in varied operating contexts.
These characteristics of versatility and flexibility of the new networks will bring undoubted advantages in terms of efficiency and resilience of the networks, called upon to manage not only traditional communications between individuals, but also enormous volumes of communications of objects in the industrial field, and in all sectors of services.
It should be emphasised that 5G also has other lesser-known advantages but which certainly have great socio-economic impact, such as reduced energy consumption (in base stations and terminals) compared to previous technologies (for example the battery life of IoT devices will last up to 10 years). Therefore, rapid take-up of the new terminals will help to significantly reduce the carbon footprint.
In the field of transport, connectivity between vehicles and elements of the surrounding area will also help to optimise transport and consequently reduce CO2 emissions.
It is also worth noting the role that 5G plays in the health field, even more so in the COVID-19 pandemic. 5G can help in hospital management, allowing fast data analysis and the use of robotics in healthcare settings. Also, in the field of e-Health, 5G can allow easier, more streamlined and secure technological communication between health workers and patients.
The European Commission adopted a 5G Action Plan for Europe in 2016 to ensure early deployment of 5G infrastructure in Europe to start launching 5G services in all EU Member States by the end of 2020 at the latest, followed by a rapid build-up to ensure uninterrupted 5G coverage in urban areas and along main transport routes by 2025.
Cellnex is aware of the policies, procedures, decisions and working documents of the European Union on 5G deployment in this regard. Furthermore, Cellnex plays a proactive role in providing information to the local administrations of the countries in which it operates. For example, in Spain, Cellnex Telecom considers it particularly important to have a National 5G Plan that helps guide the transition towards 5G, a process that will affect a large number of economic and productive sectors in Spain across the board.
5G will have a significant impact on the industrial and service fabric, becoming a crucial factor for the competitiveness and digitalisation of society, on an unprecedented scale in terms of innovation in industrial processes and innovation in service delivery processes to businesses and communities, both public and private.
To this end, Cellnex is also working with experts and its stakeholders and suppliers to bring 5G on stream in their services.
The company is conscious of the concern of some sectors of society regarding the impact of electromagnetic emissions from 5G. Cellnex wants to ensure that 5G is a safe technology and that its services comply with the regulations and recommendations set out by European and local legislation in this area.
The paradigm shift deriving from the adoption of the new generation of wireless communications is a fundamental stimulus for the entire communication chain, required to expand not only the amount but also the type of infrastructural assets to be offered to operators, especially in the light of the introduction of new network features such as edge computing or architecture virtualisation.
Speed up Britain
Cellnex UK is a founding member of ‘Speed up Britain’, a cross-industry lobbying campaign to make improvements to the Electronic Communications Code to enable faster and lower-cost deployment of new towers and equipment to support the 5G roll-out.
The project comprises seven use cases based on 5G technology, and aims to develop holographic solutions for the education sector; autonomous and connected transport vehicles for industrial environments; immersive remote shopping experiences in urban markets; and the optimisation of mobility, control and management of radio network with large numbers of people, inter alia. It will also facilitate the development of state-of-the-art 5G networks for the management of citizen security and emergencies in Barcelona, as well as the application of 5G in remote television broadcasts through mobile devices.
In 2018 the European Commission published the European Electronic Communication Code, which calls for consistency and predictability throughout the Union regarding the way the use of radio spectrum is authorised while protecting public health whilst ensuring more consistent deployment conditions for 5G across the Union.
According to the European Electronic Communication Code, exposure to electromagnetic fields caused by wireless communications equipment is subject to limits defined in a Council Recommendation. These limits are set according to the guidelines issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. In this regard, Cellnex Telecom complies with these defined limits, both for workers and general public.
Moreover, Cellnex complies with the local legislation applicable to electromagnetic emission in each country in which it operates. For example, in Spain Cellnex complies with Royal Decree 299/2016 on the protection of the health and safety of workers against the risks related to exposure to electromagnetic fields, and Royal Decree 1066/2001 approving the Regulation establishing the conditions for the protection of the public radioelectric domain, restrictions on radioelectric emissions and health protection measures against radioelectric emissions.
To show its commitment to society with regard to the possible electromagnetic impact of its towers, Cellnex works together with expert groups for research on electromagnetic emission and its impact on the environment and people's health. Cellnex also takes part in activities related to assessing, managing and communicating the possible health risks of exposure.
Collaboration between Cellnex Spain and DigitalES
Cellnex works with DigitalES, the Spanish Association for Digitisation, which performs activities related to radio emissions. This work involves examining issues of legal compliance and proposals for improvement, based on the recommendations of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), in addition to studying 5G emissions.
Collaboration between Cellnex Ireland, IBEC and EPA
In Ireland, Cellnex works with with IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) to produce a 5G FAQ’s leaflet as well as a COVID-19 and 5G factsheet. Cellnex Ireland also has assisted the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) in producing a public 5G factsheet.
Collaboration between Cellnex Italia and Asstel
In Italy, Cellnex works with Asstel, a branch dedicated to the whole TLC ecosystem within the Italian Association of industrial enterprises (CONFINDUSTRIA). Asstel has always been very vocal in advocacy for the sector on all industrial and political issues towards all stakeholders (NRA, Parliament, Local Administrations) along the debate on the development of digitalization. Since 2018 a strong institutional and communication effort has been carried out on EMF and 5G. With the engagement of valued academic institutions, extensive research has been carried out thanks to the cooperation with Universities, Public and Private Health research Institutes, Engineering, Economic Studies, with the goal of setting the debate on robust terms and be able to react to negative criticism on solid grounds on multidisciplinary aspects.
The Swiss Research Foundation for Electricity and Mobile Communication
Cellnex Switzerland supports “Forschungsstiftung Strom und Mobilkommunikation (FSM)”. The Swiss Research Foundation for Electricity and Mobile Communication (FSM) is a non-profit-making foundation for promoting scientific research into the opportunities and risks of radio and electric power technologies that produce and use electromagnetic fields. Further aims of the FSM are the publication of the results of this research in scientific bodies and the dissemination of the research findings and specialist knowledge about electromagnetic fields within the broader community.
Furthermore, Cellnex Switzerland is a member of a working group related to mobile communications and radiation created by the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) in Switzerland. As a member, Cellnex contribute to shape the future development of the mobile network in the country.
Cellnex also participates in the working groups on EMF in the following international associations, of which it is a member:
In 2020, Cellnex has set up an internal Task Force, a multidisciplinary group that coordinates the Cellnex approach to EMF issues with the vision of:
The EMF Task Force has representatives from different functional areas and from all the countries in which Cellnex operates.
The working group strives to involve and engage the stakeholders (MNO’s, public administrations, sector associations, business associations) in each country. To this end, the EMF Task Force collaborates with telecom sector associations at national and international level, supports initiatives such as “Speed up Britain” and “Chance5G, participates in events, webinars and training sessions and drafts and distributes a report in this regard.
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