Safety in the workplace, safety at your home, safety wherever you are is an expectation we all share. This is also true of new products and technologies that are introduced. We trust experts and governments to ensure that “new stuff” is inherently safe.
Nowhere is this truer than with new wireless technologies. Invisible yet pervasive in our lives, wireless is everywhere. Be it Wi-Fi, 4G, 5G, radio, broadcast TV, your garage door opener or your TV remote, wireless is all around you. Its just about impossible to avoid it. So, when a new wireless technology makes its way into our day to day lives, it is natural to ask the question – is it safe?
With the introduction and market adoption of systems and products operating in the 60GHz band, while we assume we have organizations ensuring rules for safety are in place, in this case from exposure to the RF signals, it is fair to ask the question. So ask away – the short answer is yes. 60GHz technology and products are safe.
At Airvine we are introducing our revolutionary WaveTunnel wireless indoor ethernet backbone operating in the 60GHz band. Rest assured as we detail below these products are safe for people, and are actually “safer” than many devices commonly used in everyday life.
The Longer Answer
The longer answer is based on the rules the regulators have adopted based on the science of RF signals and the human body’s susceptibility to those radio waves.
After extensive reviews and investigations, the FCC, ETSI, OFCOM and other regulators around the world have put in place rules that limit how much power 60GHz devices can use with one limit for outdoor operation and a second, lower limit for indoor operation. This is because how much your body absorbs radio signals is primarily based on: the frequency of the radio waves, the proximity of the sources to you, the strength of the signals and the “beam size” of the signals (diffuse or concentrated). . The expectation is that 60 GHz indoor products will be closer to people than those deployed on a rooftop or tower, hence the lower limit.
Let’s talk about the frequency element first – 60GHz. It is an established fact of physics that the higher the frequency of a signal, the less penetrating power it has. The signal coming off your 2.4GHz WiFi Access Point is far more able to penetrate the human body than one at 60GHz. Another example — your smart phone operates at a variety of frequencies from 600MHz ( 0.6GHz) all the way up to 3.5GHz today.
How close will you be? For WaveTunnel deployments most of the installations will be on the ceiling or high up on a wall. In addition the signals coming out of a WaveTunnel node are very narrow and focused, aimed at the next node in a cluster.
How strong are the signals? As noted government regulators have studied the science of 60GHz absorption by the human body and set safety limits on the power allowed based on those studies. In addition, the vast majority of the power or signal from a WaveTunnel node goes only to the next node. Contrast that to your WiFi AP or your cell phone which radiate energy 360 degrees covering everything and everyone nearby, and in the case of your phone, it is likely on or near your body your entire waking hours.
The table below gives some simple comparisons between the WaveTunnel nodes and common everyday wireless systems. When all the elements of RF safety are taken into consideration, it is clear that the Nodes by Airvine are safer than many of the commonly used products in today’s world.
|Device||Power||Typical distance from humans||Frequencies||Signal Focus||Notes|
|Smart Phone||22dBm (160mW)||0||600MHz to 3.5GHz||None – radiates spherically||Lower frequencies and higher power – yet still safe|
|Bluetooth earbud||0dBm (1mW)||0||2.4GHz||None – radiates spherically||Right in your ear but very low power|
|WiFi AP||25dBm (300mW)||Several feet||2.4, 5, and 6GHz||None – radiates spherically||Similar to your phone in power but farther away|
|Laptop w WiFi||15dBm (32mW)||2 -3 feet||2.4, 5, and 6GHz||None – radiates spherically||Low power and a few feet away|
|WaveTunnel Node||~15-18dBm(32mW)||Several Feet||60GHz||Extremely focused||Low power, higher frequency, and several feet away|
End of the Long Answer
We all know we live in a wireless world. It is impossible to avoid and the benefits have far outweighed the potential risks. But we also want to know that we are safe and that the science and technology are evaluated with a clear and unbiased eye.
It should be noted that health and technology regulators in all countries take this matter very seriously – it is not a “free for all” and they are all watching over and approving literally each new type of radio that enters the market. As a result, the growing evidence surrounding the safety of the 60 GHz band explains the growing regulatory acceptance around the world when it comes to using the 60 GHz band for Gigabit-speed networks.
All in all, Airvine’s 60 GHz WaveTunnel systems represent a tremendous value when it comes to creating affordable Gigabit-speed indoor networks and they pose even less of a potential health risk than our current very low risk cellular and Wi-Fi networks and products.