Ofcom announced that it would allow British 3G telecom operators to increase the transmission base stations in order to improve reception.
The request was initially made by Vodafone but O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Three also backed the request to up maximum broadcast power. Ofcom subsequently consulted on raising the maximum power by 6dBm, twice what Vodafone initially asked for, although network operator Three objected.
The maximum power limit having been raised does not mean all base stations will transmit twice as much power but rather it’s an option available to networks when the additional oomph is deemed necessary.
"Considering the citizen / consumer interest, we believe that the increase will be of benefit to consumers because it has the potential to facilitate the provision of better in-building penetration, wider coverage in rural areas and reduced impact on the environment and visual amenity for a reduced requirement for new masts," said Ofcom in a statement.
Ofcoms consultation had received a number of comments from members of the public concerned with the effects of increased electromagnetic radiation. " Some detailed instances of ill-health which they felt could be attributed to the presence of masts," the regulator said.
Ofcom’s response drew attention to existing regulations set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), citing that power levels are well below those recommended by the ICNIRP. The regulator went further and cited the 2006 World Health Organisation advice sheet which said "there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects”.
Scientific evidence will probably fail to sway correspondants convinced their sore toe was caused by mobile phone radiation but nevertheless Ofcom is required to address such concerns.
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