Telcos have a responsibility to educate the public when it comes to health concerns associated with mobile transmission towers, according to Optus Networks managing director, Günther Ottendorfer.
Opposition against the building of mobile towers in residential areas is an ongoing issue telcos have to deal with. Many people are concerned about the health implications of these towers thanks to long-running speculation about potential harm caused by mobile phone signal radiation.
One of the most common claims is mobile phone signals may cause cancer. Research providing proof mobile phones pose very little health risk has done little to quell existing public fears.
In late September, residents of Brookfield, Queensland, protested against a planned mobile transmission tower from Optus due to health concerns.
But as demand for mobile services, particularly for data, increases exponentially, more mobile towers will need to be implemented to improve communication services and coverage.
Optus has planned a 4G LTE network deployment for 2012 but is not concerned about possible protest against building mobile towers since it is mainly upgrading existing sites in phase one of the rollout. Not that the telco is turning a blind eye to the issue.
“It is important for all players to have the right balance,” Ottendorfer said at Communications Day Summit in Melbourne. “On one hand we have to ensure community processes and interests are taken into account but on the other [we have to consider] the ability to rollout mobile services.”
The telco industry as a collective has a part to play in easing the minds of the public in relation to mobile towers, he said.
“Many of those fears are based on – unfortunately – wrong information,” Ottendorfer said. “As an industry, we really have an obligation here to try as much as we can to compete with those fears from the beginning and inform people about that.”
Earlier in the day, Ottendorfer talked about how the 700MHz spectrum can turn 4G LTE from a racehorse to a workhorse.
Communications Day Summit in Melbourne continues.