News : Telcos Ready to Partner With Government to Dispel Consumers’ Fears
New Delhi, India, Aug 19, 2015 -- Telecom service providers are ready to partner with the telecom department for any initiative that could lead to alleviation of consumers' worries on electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation from mobile phone towers which is hurting quality of call services in the country.
"There is no concrete effort undertaken by telecom department to dispel consumers' tower radiation fears, although telecom minister has recently made a statement at a public forum on the subject," Auspi Secretary General Ashok Sud said.
Auspi said that the group has been constantly demanding the telecom department for joint initiatives such as advertisements to diffuse public misgivings. "The industry will be happy to work with the government to allay consumers' concerns," Sud added.
Auspi or Association of Unified Service Providers represents dual technology players such as Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices as well as Russia's Sistema that operates under MTS brand in India.
Rajan S Mathews, director general at COAI, the industry body of GSM operators like Bharti AirtelBSE -0.58 %, Vodafone and Idea, said both the government and the industry have to work together to educate consumers that EMF radiation from cellphone towers isn't harmful.
"Telecom department has laid out safety norms but has to do more especially in the area of educating consumers to mitigate their EMF radiation fears. This (radiation) is an area where consumers trust the government more, therefore active participation from the department is highly needed to allay consumers' apprehensions," Mathews said.
Telecom operators and tower firms have been on back foot due to increasing public outcry over tower deployments and blame residents welfare associations (RWA) and civic authorities for limiting telecom infrastructure, leading to rising call drops.
Telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad recently said that the DoT is pro-actively taking initiatives to allay consumers' apprehensions about adverse health impact due to mobile towers' EMF radiations.
GSMA, the parent of GSM, said that the group wants DoT to start awareness campaigns and is willing to be a part of such move to disperse radiation fears among citizens.
"In India, radiation norms are already one-tenth of the global standards. There is non-ionizing radiation which is harmless. It is a myth and needs to be addressed and we will be happy to join telecom department in spreading out awareness," GSMA India head Sandeep Karanwal said.
Karanwal said that there is an urgent need to put up more telecom towers in the country otherwise situations such as call drops will arise and quality of service is bound to deteriorate.
DoT had imposed a penalty of Rs 10.80 crores on telecom operators for violating the prescribed radiation limit for mobile towers till now. During the 2014-15 fiscal audits, the department however didn't found a single instance where such cell sites breach existing regulatory norms.
The telecom department had in October 2012 started an initiative through state-owned Telecom Consultants of India (TCIL) in Mumbai that allowed consumers to get radiation levels checked at their premises on making a nominal payment after booking a prior appointment through a call centre.
Lately, TCIL has proposed the government to extend similar initiative to other cities, but however nothing has materialized so far.
"We have proposed for an extension wherein we would test mobile sites and submit the report to the customer," TCIL Chairman and Managing Director Vimal Wakhlu said, and added that such activity is not commercially viable without government funding as it involves equipment, logistics and transportation cost.
The PSU is however exploring possibility to undertake radiation tests as a part of its CSR activity only in select cities.
Telecommunication Engineering Center (TEC), a DoT arm, is currently working on a national EMF Web portal for putting up database of all operational mobile towers and their radio frequency radiation levels for ready reference.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Department of Telecommunications:
The Department of Telecommunications, abbreviated to DoT, is part of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the executive branch of the Government of India.
Published: Thursday, August 20, 2015
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