Electromagnetic field (EMF) testing

Electromagnetic field (EMF) testing

Get a clear view of electromagnetic fields in your environment; measure electromagnetic field strength in line with standards and detect its source

Measuring EMF emissions in line with national and international standards helps ensure that transmitter systems comply with the applicable limits and also helps communicate this compliance to the public. Different EMF testing methods are available for measuring the total emissions present, including frequencies from TV and radio broadcast, mobile radio bands and radar transmissions. If there are similar emissions from multiple sources, the tests can also be used to determine the contributions of individual sources, such as base stations in a mobile radio network.

Testing exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) from LTE or 5G mobile radio networks requires much more than measuring field strength. The signal source is just as important as the radiation level. While the frequency selective measurements in LTE bands determine the total instantaneous emissions at a location from all surrounding base stations, code-selective measurement can correlate emissions with individual base stations to regulate the field strength.

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Frequency selective EMF measurements

The frequency selective method is a channel measurement delivering results based on radio services of interest. The setup consists of a meter or a spectrum analyzer operating in a sweeping mode over the frequency range of interest and is connected to either a directional antenna or an isotropic antenna. Both setups have to consider the antenna factors for each antenna element as well as the cable loss of the connection cable.

The field strength is displayed directly in dBμV/m. The frequency selective measurement is useful to rapidly assess exposure due to several transmitters separately. ICNIRP guidelines provide EMF exposure limit reference levels depending on frequency range and the local authority may have their self-impose exposure limit. Hence, it is common to display both exposure limits and the measurement result in the same report.

Code selective EMF measurements on 5G carriers

The code selective EMF measurement method uses demodulation to identify carriers, cells and beams and their individual contribution to the electromagnetic field strength. 5G NR applies new technologies such as beamforming, where very narrow and user-focused beams are used to increase the signal to interference plus noise ratio (SINR) in the field for high data throughput but may create EMF hotspots in the field.

The measurement requires a scanning receiver with a 5G NR demodulation function to identify carriers, cells and beams. Maximum emissions within a certain area need to be measured specifically for each cell and beam to understand the EMF hotspots in the field. All measured data from the field has to be available for reporting and further post-processing. Additional extrapolation factors can then be applied reflecting the additional power offsets between the 5G NR signals.

EMF testing FAQs

How can I measure EMF performance of 5G base stations?

Definitions of EMF performance measurement procedures are under discussion in many regions around the world. Switzerland was one of the first countries to roll out 5G NR and has defined specifications for code-selective EMF measurements. The R&S®TSMA6 with Qualipoc Android uses these specifications and measures the power of continuously transmitted signals (SSBs). Total EMF can be calculated using extrapolation factors. For more details, see white paper (“EMF measurements in 5G networks”).

What is EMF?

The electromagnetic field strength (EMF) represents the amount of electromagnetic radiation in a certain location. It is based on power measurements that require a calibrated antenna with a known gain curve. Using the flux density [W/m²], the EMF value can be calculated in [V/m] units by applying several mathematical formulas in a second step.

Related applications for EMF testing

Webinar: EMF measurements

Get all the information you need to make 5G EMF measurements in our webinar.

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White paper: EMF measurements in 5G networks

How do you measure electromagnetic pollution in 5G networks? Learn more about electromagnetic field measurements in this white paper.

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