Sat, Apr 07, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Commission apologizes over base station fiasco

RADIATION RISKS The telecom regulator said that a letter permitting the set-up of base stations in schools was the result of an `administrative error'

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The National Communications Commission (NCC) on Thursday clarified that it does not support the construction of mobile phone base stations (MPBS) in elementary and high schools -- to prevent children and young people from being exposed to risks associated with radiation.

Chen Kuo-lung (陳國龍), a deputy chief of the commission's Business Management Department, said that the government, base station contractors and operators had a previous agreement that mobile phone base stations must not be established in elementary, junior high and senior high schools because of health concerns.

Chen was responding to a recent furor over a letter sent by the NCC to public organizations in Taichung, in which it said MPBS should be allowed on public lands and in public-owned establishments as long as construction safety and fire-fighting factors are addressed "unwittingly" including elementary and high schools in the list of "public organizations."

Chen said it was an "administrative error" and that commission Chairman Su Yung-chin (蘇永欽) had already called Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) to clarify the commission's stance on the matter as well as apologize for the "administrative fiasco."

Chen said the letter was written based on the requirements of operators of low-radiation personal handy-phone systems (PHS), adding that PHS base stations posed only a marginal health threat to young people because of its low-radiation emissions.

The Ministry of Education lashed out at the NCC on Thursday for asking Taichung elementary and high schools to allow the establishment of MPBS in their areas "without proper reasons."

An NCC survey conducted last June showed that there were 26,000 base stations for 2G mobile phones, 6,500 base stations for 3G mobile phones and 16,000 base stations for PHS.

NCC said it has been working to cut the number of MPBS nationwide by persuading mobile service providers to share or merge their base station operations and allowing the establishment of more low-radiation PHS base stations.

Lawmakers have protested against the establishment of MPBS in residential and school areas as they increase the risk of exposure to base station radiation, which might cause cancer, miscarriages, diseases of the nervous system and even drive people to commit suicide.

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