Antigua St John's - On July 18, Caribarena received a reply from LIME about its cell phone towers. Questions regarding the towers were sent to the telecommunications provider on May 24 - nearly two months ago.
The questions and answers are outlined below:
Question: What Caribarena.com would like to know is if LIME has regulations of its own in place?
Answer: LIME operates in many markets whereby it is governed by established regulations. In the case of Antigua & Barbuda where there are no existing regulations, LIME is guided by the findings of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) and the International Non-Ionizing Radiation Committee (INIRC).
(Caribarena Note: The IRPA was an organisation set up in 1974, which later formed the INIRC in 1977. In 1992, they were succeeded by ICNIRP, who released updated guidelines for mobile phones and towers in 1998. However, LIME claims to be working by the findings of the old IRPA/INIRC. ICNIRP takes the findings of the IRPA/INIRC into consideration when setting its guidelines, but the two organisations have completely different limits. In addition to this, an article on ICNIRP guidelines, written on dnaindia, says,
"Several pointers should have cautioned India against the perils of adopting ICNIRP norms. Rapid strides in research during the last decade have left the 1998-vintage (ICNIRP) norms looking all but irrelevant.
They were intended to curb short-term thermal effects (the late 1990s saw a heightened awareness over global warming) and were not calibrated for the adverse biological effects of long-term radiation exposure such as cancer and genetic damage.
Most environmentally-progressive countries (in Europe, for instance) have rejected the norms outright as being dangerously lenient. Even China has opted for an admirably stringent radiation limit of 0.1 w/sq.m." http://www.dnaindia.com/opinion/report_why-our-cell-tower-norms-on-radiation-are-meaningless_1463536)
Question: What sorts of factors are considered before the erection of a tower?
Answer: Factors include service area, access to site and coverage, proximity to existing and intended customers.
(caribarena Note: So schools are not important. Even countries that are under the ICNIRP standard, like France, Russia and Japan, prohibit the placing of antennas and towers near schools, as well as the use of cell phones in schools because of the vulnerability of children.)
Question: What consideration is put into action before the company decides what strength that antenna would broadcast?
Answer: LIME Antigua follows all the guidelines for the operation of a GSM site as per international standards. They are the same for developed countries and developing countries. Signal strength is variable and set by proximity of mobile to the site and the signal strength reported by the mobile. Automatic power adjustment is initiated to achieve best level of service on all sites.
Question: Are all antennas emitting the same signal strength?
Answer: All power amplifiers emit 10W maximum at macros sites and 1W at E-Cells. Antenna gain is varied to mitigate loss of power on transmission line.
(caribarena Note: In our measurements, LIME towers surpassed the IEMFA safe limit significantly, sometimes being 16 times stronger than the limit. We recorded strengths including 2.72 mW/m2.)
Question: Have there been talks with other mobile providers with regards to sharing towers?
Answer: We have been tower sharing for many years. When a new tower is being constructed, LIME discusses the possibility to tower share with other service providers.
Question: Are there any international guidelines that are employed with regards to this subject?
Answer: The guidelines of International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) and the International Non-Ionizing Radiation Committee (INIRC).
Question: Is the influx of towers and antennas locally mirrored across the region?
Answer: In order to provide the best mobile coverage to our customers, LIME engages in tower sharing opportunities where possible. We encourage other operators across the Caribbean to emulate this practise.
(caribarena Note: A fine evasion of the question by LIME. Mobile coverage and tower sharing were not the issue discussed in the question.)
Question: Is the location of the towers and antennas considered with regard to the environs? For example schools, businesses etc?
Answer: LIME is aware of its responsibility to the people of Antigua & Barbuda which include customers, LIME employees and their families. When a site is selected, LIME reviews the environment of operation. The positioning of our towers and antennas are fully compliant with all GSM Safety Standards.
(caribarena Note: Again, LIME has evaded the question. Are environs, like schools and businesses, considered when a new tower is erected? Also, what is a GSM safety standard?
Let's hope it's something similar to the safety limitations of Non-ionizing radiation at frequencies between 400 and 2,000 MHz. And while LIME may be compliant with ICNIRP's safety standards, or with the older IRPA/INIRC standards, there are many significantly lower standards, such as IEMFA's standard, which it is not compliant with.)
Questions: Can you say how many towers LIME has?
Answer: LIME has 22 towers.
(caribarena Note: So, LIME has 22. Digicel has 28, and APUA has 31. Some simple arithmetic brings the total to 81. Our study found 98 cell phone towers. So where are the missing 17?)
It is important to understand that regardless of any international regulations, the number of cell phone towers in Antigua is completely out of proportion. Our island is not so large that it needs almost 100 cell phone towers.
On top of this, many towers are located in the worst possible places, residential areas. When a tower is placed inside a residential area, this means that it is constantly exposing people in the area to its EMF. So not only is the number of towers completely bloated, but the towers themselves are placed in areas of greatest risk.
However, LIME's final answer raises new questions; with 17 towers without an owner, who knows to whom they belong? Does the Ministry of Information Technology have a listing of all of these towers? Do they know where each tower is? Could it be that the Minister of IT hasn't responded because he has no answers to questions like these?
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