NCC defends handling of complaints

‘AGGRESSIVE’ ACTION::Yu Hsiao-cheng said the NCC has collected more than NT$250 million in fines from telecoms that illegally constructed base stations

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 17, 2015 - Page 4

The National Communications Commission (NCC) yesterday dismissed claims that it has not been cracking down hard enough on illegally installed telecom service base stations, adding that an average of 100 such violations were reported per month over the past five years.

The commission’s remarks came after a court in Kaohsiung ruled in favor of residents opposed to a Chunghwa Telecom Co base station erected inside a public housing building on the grounds that it was detrimental to their health.

The court found that even though the plaintiffs had failed to prove that the base station — illegally installed by the company in 2009 — had damaged their health, their concerns that electromagnetic waves transmitted by the station could be detrimental had caused fear and stress exceeding any normal person’s emotional limit and infringed their right to the quiet enjoyment of their property.

The court ordered Chunghwa to compensate the plaintiffs a total of NT$225,000 (US$6,868).

The case is the first in the nation in which a court sided with residential plaintiffs and against a telecom firm. The company said it would study the verdict and would likely appeal the ruling.

Commission spokesperson Yu Hsiao-cheng (虞孝成) said that telecoms should follow the commission’s procedures requiring them to apply to install base stations, rather than illegally installing them as a way to quickly expand their coverage area.

The public should not be overly concerned about potential health hazards of electromagnetic waves emitted by telecom base stations because each nation sets standards to regulate such waves, Yu said.

Cellphones are used by 6 billion people worldwide, and the WHO had listed electromagnet waves as just one possible carcinogen to humans, along with coffee and pickled vegetables, he said, adding that the WHO has yet to produce solid evidence that cellphone use could damage human health in the long run.

Yu said the commission has cracked down on more than 100 illegal base stations per year for the past five years, collecting more than NT$250 million in fines.

Telecom companies can be fined NT$500,000 for each violation, although they are not penalized until the fifth offenses.

Telecoms face a lot of problems when they want to install cellphone base stations in an apartment building, because they first have to secure the consent of the building’s management committee.