your questions about radio waves in the home

Does wi-fi equipment represent a health risk?
The World Health Organization (WHO), the UK Agency for Health Protection ( Health Protection Agency) and Health Canada indicate that, given the very low exposure levels and research results obtained to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence of possible adverse health effects of wireless networks, which include Wi-fi networks.

Are wi-fi and micro-wave ovens that both use the 2.4 GHz frequency comparable?
No. The 2.4GHz frequency is one of the Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) frequencies, which is used in many household and medical applications and in telecommunications (wi-fi, Bluetooth…). wi-fi equipment has an emission that is roughly 10,000 times lower than that of a micro-wave oven. For this reason, it is impossible for wi-fi equipment to have the same effect on the human body as a micro-wave oven.

What is wi-fi?
wi-fi (« wireless fidelity ») is a radio communication technology that permits creation of local broadband wireless networks (6 to 25 Mb/s).
The range of wireless networks is 20 to 50 metres indoors and 100 metres outdoors.
Computers, printers, phones, game consoles, etc. which feature the Wi-fi function are all equipped with a radio wave transceiver at very low power, which today is still below 0.1 watt. Wi-fi is mainly used for high-speed access to the internet. Devices with the Wi-fi function are connected wirelessly to a box or a terminal in public places: train stations, restaurants, gardens, airports, etc.
Modern Wi-Fi technology includes several norms and several frequency bands. The 2 frequency bands authorised for Wi-Fi are 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz and the most widely used norms offer speeds of 11 or 54 Mbit/sec.
The 2.4 GHz frequency band is the most common and the 5GHz band is rapidly expanding.
The latest generation of boxes distributed by Orange (play Livebox) uses both frequency bands simultaneously, thus enabling equipped devices to make full use of them.

Does a wi-fi device emit constantly?
No: a wi-fi device regularly emits very weak and very short beacon channel when it receives or sends content. The emission time varies depending on the downloaded content (e.g. from viewing a web page to watching a movie in streaming).

Do health authorities give advice on the installation or use of Wi-fi equipment? Are there special conditions for such equipment?
Health authorities do not give specific advice for Wi-fi devices because of their very low emission power.
At regulatory level, there are two different categories of Wi-fi equipment:

  • Devices where the user is in contact or in close proximity, such as computers, phones, game consoles, etc., which must have a SAR lower than 2 W/kg;
  • Access points such as home boxes and public terminals, which are usually further away from the individual and whose maximum exposure limit is set at 61 V/m. This threshold and the thresholds for all radio wave transmitters (radios, televisions, mobile phones, etc.) are recommended by the  ICNIRP and the European Union.

Do DECT cordless phones induce the same exposure as a mobile phone?
The Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telephone (DECT) is the most commonly used cordless telephone in our homes. It uses the (1880 – 1900 MHz) frequency band and has a range of up to 300 m.
The average signal emitted by the set is 10 MW, roughly five times less than that of a 2G mobile working on the network.
SAR measurement carried out during scientific studies on DECT sets have shown that they were between 0.1 and 0.01 W/kg, roughly 20 times lower than the limit recommended by ICNIRP , which is 2W/kg.

Does using a wi-fi box as a ‘public hot spot’ to allow several simultaneous connections to the internet increase the exposure of the users and people nearby?
Sharing internet connections via domestic wi-fi boxes supplied by a given operator requires two main conditions: ADSL lines that are adequate in terms of speed and the availability of open mode wi-fi from the box network
Exposure for humans does not vary and remains very low whether the box is ‘closed’ – meaning only for use by the customer who installed it – or whether it is ‘open’ and therefore accessible to other customers of the same operator. At a distance of a few dozen centimetres from the box, it becomes negligible in comparison to the ambient exposure to radio waves (radio, television, mobile telephones, private networks…).