Residents of Ganjing Borough (柑井里) in Changhua County’s Hemei Township (和美) on Tuesday decided to resume the transmission of telecom signals from a base station in the borough in a near-unanimous vote.
The vote came after more than half of the borough’s 4,400 residents complained about not being able to make telephone calls or access the Internet after the device was turned off on Wednesday last week following protests from some residents.
The base station, which was cobuilt by Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone Telecommunications, was installed on the property of an old factory. The property was later sold to a new owner, who demolished the factory.
However, some residents found out that there was a base station on the property.
Without giving Borough Warden Chen Ming-yuan (陳明桓) prior notice, they launched a protest against the device on the grounds that electromagnetic waves emitted by it would cause health hazards, prompting the new owner to ask the telecoms to remove the base station.
As the telecoms had not found a place to move the base station, they stopped the transmissions by turning off the device.
However, Chen and the Hemei Township Office have since last week received numerous complaints from borough residents, who said that they could not use their smartphones to make calls or access the Internet.
They also said that they could only get two or three signal bars on their smartphones most of the time and experienced delays when downloading files from the Internet.
In Tuesday’s vote, residents were asked to vote between two options. The first was to remove all base stations in the borough, after which residents would not be able to use their smartphones to make calls or access the Internet, including messaging apps and social media, reverting to landlines for communication.
The second option was to resume transmissions and relocate the base station.
More than 160 residents voted in favor of the latter. Only one man in his 60s opposed, saying that he was afraid that electromagnetic waves could cause cancer.
After the result was announced, residents who attended the meeting applauded the decision.
The property owner agreed to donate to the community half of the rent he collects for the base station until a new location is found to fund emergency care, scholarship programs and meals for older people.
Hemei Mayor Ruan Hou-jue (阮厚爵) said that the township would help the borough find a new location for the base station.
Chen said that the telecoms originally planned to turn off the base station during the Lunar New Year holiday, but he asked that they postpone the move to this month.
The telecoms have already found other locations to move the base station, he added.
“As borough residents themselves had decided to remove the base station in the first place, telecoms would not need to compensate their subscribers for suspending the transmission of signals,” the National Communications Commission said.”
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