Radio Frequency Concerns
Smart Meter Technology and Products
The Itron OpenWay® technology and products chosen by SDG&E® fully comply with U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guidelines for human exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy. In addition, the FCC recently confirmed that current smart meter installations (including those for multiple meters at a site) comply with FCC radio frequency exposure limits.
Smart meters operate in two ranges (bands) of frequencies*:
900 megahertz (MHz) band—slightly above those used by some of the cellular telephone carriers
2.4 gigahertz (GHz) band—the same range where WiFi and many cordless phones operate.
These bands include the same FCC-approved frequencies that have been used for many years in other devices such as baby monitors, remote controlled toys and medical monitors.
Smart meter data transmission
When the OpenWay device is transmitting, the exposure to radio frequencies is much lower than exposure limits set by the FCC.
- At 8 inches from the front of the meter, exposure is almost 10 times lower than the 902 MHz limits and more than 16 times lower than the 2.4 GHz limits.
- The power transmitted toward the rear of the meter is typically an additional five to 10 times lower.
- At 8 inches, RF energy from the average OpenWay device across combined transmitting and non-transmitting periods is less than 1% of the FCC general population exposure limits.
- Radio signals generated by OpenWay devices are far below the levels emitted by common household appliances and electronics, including cell phones, baby monitors and microwave ovens.
We continually monitor regulatory and scientific developments related to human exposure to RF energy.
SDG&E relies upon the expert findings on science related to RF exposures and potential health effects through the following organizations and agencies:
World Health Organization
U.S Food and Drug Administration
Electric Power Research Institute
According to these groups, no adverse short- or long-term health effects have been shown to occur from the radio frequency signals produced by smart meters or other such wireless networks.
- Radio Frequency Output Comparison Chart
Source Radio Frequency Output vs standing two feet from a Smart Meter
Standing in front of an active microwave oven, two inches from door
550 times more
Holding a live walkie-talkie at your head
55 – 4,600 times more
Holding an active cell phone at your head
3.3 – 1,100 times more1
Using a laptop computer
1.1 – 2.2 times more
Sitting in a Wi-Fi cyber cafe
1.1 – 2.2 times more
Source: Richard Tell Associates
1 Cell phones are designed to reduce RF output power to the minimum required for reliable communication, but may reach peak power output when signal strength is limited.
For example, a person speaking on a cell phone has 3.3 to 1,100 times more RF exposure than a person standing two feet from an active smart meter. Similarly, a person using a laptop computer can experience up to 2.2 times more RF exposure than a person standing 2 feet from a smart meter.
- FCC Radio Frequency Exposure Guidelines
The FCC’s guidelines for human exposure to RF energy were adopted from limits recommended by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and the C95.1-1992 guidelines developed by the American National Standards Institute and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
- Additional Information
The OpenWay meters have been tested in accordance with Title 47, Part 15 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, and have been certified by the FCC.
- Smart Meter Resources
Smart meters and RF exposure
- Smart Meter RF Fact Sheet
- Environmental Defense Fund
- Utilities Telecom Council (pdf)
- OpenWay RF FAQ (pdf)
- EPRI “RF Exposure Levels from Smart Meters” (pdf)
- EPRI Comment: “Sage report on RF from Smart Meters” (pdf)
- FCC Letter
- EEI-AEIC-UTC White Paper “Discussion of Smart Meters and RF Exposure Issues” (pdf)
- CCST Smart Meter Report
- American Cancer Society Press Release
- Does Wireless Energy Transport Pose Health Risks?
Information from the WHO
- World Health Organization (WHO) Fact Sheet (pdf)
- Electromagnetic Fields
- International EMF Project
- Cell Phone Use and RF Exposure
Information from the FDA