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BW Businessworld

Reducing Radiation Risk

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Telecom operators will soon have a new headache to deal with. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) wants operators to drastically reduce electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers. From 1 September, operators should limit radiation to one-tenth of the current permissible limits —from 9.2 watt per square metre (w/sq. mt.) to 0.92 w/sq. mt.

This is in line with Italy, Israel (1w/sq. mt.) and China (0.4w/sq. mt). However, the European Union is still at the current Indian levels.

Reducing radiation means reducing signal strength. Therefore, more towers have to be set up to cover the gap. There are about 450,000 towers in India. Adding 20,000-25,000 new towers would mean an investment of Rs 7,500 crore. Naresh Ajwani, chief of regulatory and corporate affairs at Viom Networks, says that while operators would need to install more radio equipment, the operating expenses for telecom tower companies will rise.

“With civil society raising the issue of telecom radiation, it could be difficult in future to set up towers atop buildings in major cities,” says Rajan Mathews, director-general, Cellular Operators Association of India.

One good thing is that DoT’s move could give a fillip to newer technologies such as in-building solutions (IBS) and distributed antenna systems (DAS), which lead to lower emissions. But that’s a call for the telecom industry to take.

(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 27-08-2012)