Mobile towers to face stricter measures
The national telecom regulator is putting in place stricter measures on the installation of mobile towers in residential areas to allay concerns over possible health effects of exposure to frequency radiation.
Prawit Leesathapornwongsa, a member of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), called for the creation of a working panel comprised of representatives from the the national regulator and mobile operators to tackle the issue.
Even though a June survey found mobile towers in Thailand emitted electromagnetic waves well below the maximum level set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), Mr Prawit said stricter measures would reassure the public and accommodate growing demand for mobile towers.
The survey, conducted by King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang and commissioned by the NBTC, tested more than 40 mobile towers in 20 provinces nationwide, measuring the power of radio frequency waves for both horizontal ranges of 1.3 to 1.7 metres and vertical directions from 50-500 metres.
The ICNIRP said the maximum exposure of radio frequency radiation should not exceed 58 volts per metre for the 1800-megahertz frequency.
"The survey found the highest exposure rate was only 1.5 V/m, in Saraburi province," said Mr Prawit.
But he said ICNIRP guidelines were not intended to be a complete system for protecting the public.
Mobile towers hold antennae and other communications equipment. They flood the area for kilometres around with powerful high-frequency radio waves to support the use of mobiles as well as WiFi, WiMax, Wireless LAN networks and Bluetooth-supported devices.
Mr Prawit admitted there was growing public concern over the possible health effects of radiation exposure but said there was no conclusive research that radio frequency waves harmed humans.
There are 60,000 mobile towers nationwide, with the number rising on growing demand for wireless data communications.
"We've received almost 100 complaints asking us to help remove cellular towers from their communities," said Mr Prawit.
The planned joint working panel plans to set clearer measures for mobile operators to contact communities where they plan to erect a tower.
Operators need to raise public awareness about the emission range of radio waves from the tower which they intend to install, Mr Prawit added.