Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Strict base station limits in Brussels hurt the economy says Digital Agenda Commissioner


Neelie Kroes

European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes

The EU’s strictest mobile phone antenna signal standards should be eased to allow high-speed mobile networks to be rolled out in the Belgian capital because the limits are damaging the economy without protecting the people, the European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes said.
Brussels’ approach to 4G is “damaging the economy without protecting the population” Commissioner Kroes was quoted as saying in a letter to the Belgian Permanent Representation to the European Union.
Commissioner Kroes expressed her concerns about the delays in rolling out the 4G network in the EU capital where she has to work to reboot the EU economy and enable Europe's citizens and businesses to get the most out of digital technologies.
Ms Kroes has also taken to her twitter account to lament the poor mobile phone coverage in the city as a result of the strict standard.
"Back in #Brussels and the 3G (Never mind the #4G!) so bad I have to write this on my advisers phone. Frustrating, Avoidable." 
Most major cities in Belgium already have access to superfast 4G mobile networks but because of the capital’s stricter regulations, mobile operators haven’t been able to update the network in Brussels.
In 2007, the Parliament of the Brussels Region of Belgium adopted a 3 volt per metre (V/m) exposure limit for mobile phone base stations as an added precaution, a limit 200 times stricter than the limits recommended by the EU and the World Health Organization – making them the most restrictive in the EU.
The problem with the current standard is it requires carriers to split the 3 V/m exposure limit between the network operators and between their 2G and 3G services leaving them with only a small fraction of the exposure limits for each service and no room for the new 4G technology.
The Environment Minister in charge of the Brussels’ standard, Evelyne Huytebroeck has proposed an amendment to the regulations which would maintain the current standards for 2G and 3G services, but measure 4G separately.
However, the proposal has been criticised by the country’s mobile operators who have called for the adoption of similar limits as the rest of Belgium.
“The proposal of the Minister is not currently acceptable,” the Belgian GSM Operators’ Forum (GOF) said in a press release. “The proposal does not provide a satisfactory, long-term solution to the impedances caused by Brussels’ limit.” 
“Yet, it would be perfectly possible by aligning the situation in Brussels [to] that of other regions, where very high [quality] standards are also in place after consultation with the sector.”
“Mobile operators welcome the recognition by the Minister of problems relating to the issuance of building permits for antennas in the Brussels Region, and they hope that the government will commit to finding a solution for it.”

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