Telecom operators have urged the government to bring the current electromagnetic field (EMF) norms in line with global standards, failing which they would need to put up more towers. This would increase their capital and operating expenditures and result in a higher carbon footprint.

In a letter to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) informed that the prevailing stringent EMF norms would not be feasible with 5G and beyond technologies, as these technologies will be primarily deployed in higher spectrum frequencies of C-band and mmWave band. COAI stated that the emission norms need to be aligned with the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection norms as 5G will be characterised by the use of spectrum in higher bands with bigger channel bandwidth with consequent reduction in cell site coverage.

According to industry executives, EMF norms in India are 10 times stricter than elsewhere in the world and may prove to be a hindrance in providing 5G services, especially in far-flung remote areas. Telecom operators will have to put up 40 per cent more sites to cover the entire country with 5G if the EMF norms are not revised. The industry also pointed out that no health-related effects have been observed from site EMF radiation.