A Democratic Progressive Party legislator yesterday proposed to amend the Telecom Act so that telecom companies would not be permitted to locate antennas for cellular phones in residential areas, given that open land spaces will be available for use as antenna sites.
According to Legislator Lin Wuei-chou, residents have taken issue with the location of more than 6,000 of the 26,000 authorized cellular phone antenna sites throughout the country.
Lin said that his proposed revision of the Telecom Act would ensure that "cellular phone service providers do not set up antenna sites in residential areas and districts zoned for residential building construction in rural or agricultural areas. However public buildings and structures used for business purposes should allow access for providers to establish antenna sites, he added,
Lin's proposal came in response to protests by residents, NGOs, and environmental groups, all of whom are concerned that the radiation from the antennas could pose an undetectable health risk, as some earlier studies have revealed that such radiation could cause brain cancer.
The Directorate General of Telecommunications, under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, was low-keyed in its response to the protests, stating only that "people cannot expect to have both convenience (with the use of cell phones) and health protection (from the risks of cancer) in this matter."
MOTC officials also said that communication capacity and quality nationwide would be seriously affected -- possibly by as much as 50 percent -- if the antenna sites were to be built outside of residential areas.
The MOTC pointed out that the nationwide standard for the capacity radio power emitted from one antenna site was twenty times lower than that of an FM radio station, and was even less than that from a microwave oven.
Foreign and domestic researchers have said that people should be more concerned about the increasing prevalence of cellular phones, since a study by the World Health Organization last year found that people who have used cell phones for at least ten years might be at greater risk of developing brain tumors than others.
The concern is that cell phones are often placed close to or against the head during use, which puts the radiation in direct contact with the tissue in the head. However, whether or not cell phones emit enough radiation to cause adverse health effects is a controversial issue since there is evidence supporting both sides of the argument.
Almost two billion people use cell phones around the world.