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Impact of VoIP Services on the Level of Head Exposure to Radiation from 3G Smartphones

Hayat Abdulla and Renny E. Badra Departamento de Electrnica y Circuitos - Universidad Simn Bolvar Caracas, Venezuela

Why Voice over IP (VoIP)?

So far, all studies considering head emissions from cell phones are referred to circuit-switched voice services. However, the use of packet-switched voice-over-IP (VoIP) speech connections is becoming increasingly attractive for cellular users, given its advantages in terms of cost and connectivity. Moreover, there is consensus around the fact that in the next decade or so VoIP will be the dominant protocol for voice services across all segments of a cellular network, including its radio interface. Skype is the dominant commercial VoIP services (over 700 million subscribers worldwide).

Why a system-level study?

So far, prevention efforts have been focused on controlling the maximum output levels of cell phones. Only a small fraction (less than 10%) of mobiles in a typical cell transmit at maximum power. Little attention has been paid to the impact of system parameters, such as voice technology and quality of coverage, on other relevant statistics of the emissions. Overwhelming evidence indicates that cell phone use should not be a reason for generalized public health concern. However, the scence on this is not fully settled, as seen from a number of recent studies on the subject

Year Country
2006 2007 Denmark 13 countries

Summary of Results
no link between cell phone use and brain tumor risk in long-term users (10 years In some cases, long-term use and glioma found to be possitively correlated. In other cases, regular use and several types of tumors found to be negatively correlated. 50% increase in risk of parotid glande tumors among cell phone users

2008 2009 2011


4 scandinavian No correlation found between cell phone use countries and brain tumors UK Brain tumor incidence on british population found to have grown only marginally from 1998 to 2007 (0.6 cases per 100.000 inhab.) 50 minutes of cell phone use significantly alter brain glucose activity



WHO, june 2011

The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use. This conclusion is based on the analysis of previous research and not in any new research. The Group 2B list of possible carcinogenic include over 200 items, including coffee!

SAR and transmit power

Effect of non-ionizing radiation over organic tissue is heat dissipated from EM emissions. SAR (Specific Absortion Rate) is defined as the amount of power dissipated per unit mass of tissue [W/kg]. For regulatory purposes, SAR is obtained experimentally. Maximum FCC tolerated head SAR level is 1.6 W/kg (source: ANSI). This work asumes a linear relationship between SAR and average transmit power:

SAR = Pt " K SAR

Experiment Design
Determine statistics of transmit power

Monte Carlo Simulations (approx. 260.000 trials per cell). Link power budget obtained using statistical propagation models. Power control algorithms applied. Parameter KSAR obtained for each cell phone model under study. Linear relationship between SAR and average power applied. Effect of system parameters on two indicators (average SAR throughout cell and percentage of trials above 0.16 W/kg) is evaluated.

Obtain statistics of SAR

Evaluate impact of system parameters

W-CDMA uplink traffic scenarios

Parameter Voice Codec Vocoder rate Bit rate at MAC level Transmission Time Interval (TTI) RLC mode Channel coding Voice Activity Factor BLER Required Eb/No CircuitSwitched Voice GSM-EFR 12.2 kbps 15.7 kbps 20 ms VoIP using Standard Protocols GSM-EFR 12.2 kbps 18..2 kbps 20 ms VoIP using SKYPE iSAC 32 kbps 50 kbps 30 ms

Transparent Unacknowledged CRC + Rate-1/3 Convolutional 0.67 0.67 1.00 1% 5 dB 1% 5dB 5% 1.5 dB

Link Budget Analysis

Pmin = Rsen + Lp + " Li # "Gi

Minimum Required Transmit Power Receiver Sensitivity Radio Channel Propagation Loss Other power losses along signal path

Power gains along signal path

Pt = Power _ Control (Pmin )

Actual Transmit Power Application of power control algorithm

Link Budget Parameters

Parameter UE max transmit power UE ant. gain + cable loss Receiver Noise Figure Receiver Sensitivity NodeB Antenna Type NodeB Antenna Max Gain NodeB Cable losses Uplink CDMA Load Factor NodeB antenna diversity gain Value 22 dBm 0 dB 4.0 dB Service-dependent (see Eq. (5)) Sectorized, 90 beamwidth 16.1 dBi 2 dB 3.0 dB (50% cell load) Included in (Eb/No)req

Radio Channel Model

COMPONENT Distance-dependent propagation loss Indoor / Outdoor locations Shadowing loss MODEL COST 231 Extension of Hata Model for the 1900 MHz band Street-level locations with 1/3 probability In-building locations with 2/3 probability Zero-mean log-normal random variable with standard deviation of 8 dB (outdoors) or 11 dB (indoors) Rayleigh amplitude distribution Fixed: 12 dB (indoor locations only) Fixed: 3 dB All locations NLOS (non-Line of Sight)

Small scale fading Structure penetration loss Human body loss LOS/NLOS discrimination

Power Control Parameters

Parameter Maximum Power Minimum Power Granularity
Transmit Power

R99 W-CDMA 23 dBm -50 dBm 1 dB

Max Transmit Power Call Begins

Minimum required transmit power Call Time

Smartphone Parameters and Simulation Scenarios

Device 1 2 3 SAR [w/Kg] 1.19 0.906 1.41 <Pt> [dBm] 22.2 21.9 22.3 KSAR [Kg-1] 7.17 5.85 8.30

Simulation Scenario A B

Street-level cell area coverage confidence 90% 95%

Cell radius 1350 m. 1020 m.

Results: Average SAR

Results: Fraction of trials with SAR > 0.16 w/kg.

Other Results
When compared to CS voice, VoIP cell area coverage is slightly lower (2-3% for standard VoIP and 5-6% for Skype). When compared to CS voice, average transmit power rises by about 0.2 dB (standard VoIP) and by 2.0 dB (Skype)
Fraction of mobiles transmitting at maximum power increases by 5-6% (standard VoIP) and 10-12% (Skype).

Big differences among devices in average SAR and fraction of trials with SAR>0.16 w/kg.

We have quantified the level of head emissions from cellular phones operating under the three major voice technologies, as a function of system parameters.
Novel methodology based on linearly relating SAR and transmit power.

SAR levels depend on coverage confidence levels of the cell more strongly than on any other system parameter
Higher confidence reduce SAR levels. Improving the reverse link budget design margins translates not only into higher coverage reliability but also into lower transmit power levels and lower head emissions.

The use of VoIP always carries an increase of average emissions as well as other relevant statistics.
Increase when stadard protocols are used is small, but with proprietary service Skype, it may be as high as 60% in terms of average SAR.

Rise in emissions linked to the fact that under Skype, average mobile transmit power increases by about 2 dB with respect to circuit switched voice services.
Power increase is related to substantially higher bit rates required by the Skype application. More research on traffic generated by Skype VoIP client is requiered.

Cell area coverage shrinks under VoIP protocols, as compared to CS voice.
Reduction is only about 2-3% for standard VoIP and 5-6% for Skype.

Significant differences in average SAR can be observed among devices (up to 42%).
Such differences are linked to differences in KSAR among devices.

Additional Results: Skype Codec type and WCDMA BLER analysis

G.729 BLER=1% BLER=10% BLER=1% BLER=10% BLER=1% BLER=10% 0 20% 40% 60% 80% Increase in average SAR with respect to CS voice 100% A Scenario B Scenario



Additional Results: Skype Codec type and WCDMA BLER analysis

CS voice G.729 BLER=1% BLER=10% BLER=1% BLER=10% BLER=1% BLER=10% A Scenario B Scenario









Fraction of Monte Carlo trials with average SAR of 0.16 watt/Kg or more

Additional Conclusions
Setting BLER in the W-CDMA to lower values reduces SAR levels
BLER around 1% prevents packet retransmissions and drastically reduces over-the-air bit rate

Strong influence of the voice CODEC type used by Skype

G.729 induces the lowest emissions, while SVOPC induces the highest iSAC and SVOPC preferred for end-to-end Skype calls, while G.729 is typically chosen for SkypeOut calls Codec choice can be controlled by user to a certain extent

Impact of VoIP Services on the Level of Head Exposure to Radiation from 3G Smartphones
Hayat Abdulla and Renny E. Badra Departamento de Electrnica y Circuitos - Universidad Simn Bolvar Caracas, Venezuela