Yesterday I saw a BBC Panorama program on the risks of WiFi radiation. According to the BBC journalist, the measured WiFi radiation in a UK city center is about three times higher than the radiation produced by a GSM cell station about 100 meters away. The journalist was trying to make the case that if cellular GSM masts are required to be located away from schools, then, why encourage kids to use WiFi-enabled laptops or why deploy city-wide WiFi networks, including at schools and homes.

I have always been very skeptical about the risks of such low power radiation devices. After all, a WiFi router radiates about 100,000 times less than a domestic microwave. Nevertheless, the program showed people that claim to get sick with WiFi radiation. If this picks up with the public opinion, it could be a serious problem for WiFi systems, regardless of whether the problem exists or not.

The methods used in the program were far from being “scientific”, and there is a lot to debate about the results presented. Still, the reason I am concerned about this is because I had hoped that the WiFi revolution (both when being used as base stations and to create mesh networks) would not only provide wireless networks with greater capacity (in the information theory way), but would also be perceived as a “greener” wireless technology, since less powerful base stations have to be deployed. However, this seems to be under debate now. Not a good start…