Mobile mast attacks raise vigilante concerns

Mobile mast attacks raise vigilante concerns

Summary: A number of base stations have been destroyed amid concern that they are responsible for local clusters of illness, but the mobile industry doesn't believe the trend will hamper 3G rollout

TOPICS: Mobility
The destruction of a mobile phone mast in the West Midlands has led to concern that campaigners against mobile phone base stations are increasingly taking matters into their own hands, and could hamper the rollout of third-generation (3G) mobile services.

The base station, at Wishaw near Sutton Coldfield, was pulled down in the early hours of 6 November. It has been sited there for a decade, and people living nearby blame it on a number of cases of serious illnesses in the area.

Since the destruction of the mast, which police are said to be treating as an act of vandalism, local residents have maintained a vigil at the site to prevent a replacement base station being built.

The attack in Wishaw occurred around the time of another incident in Dudley when mobile network equipment was set alight, and comes just months after one of Hutchison 3G's masts was pulled down in Tiverton, Devon. At least two further masts have also been destroyed in Northern Ireland. These actions appear to indicate a trend of direct action by communities who fear that mobile phone masts are a health threat.

Thousands of additional mobile masts are being built across Britain to support 3G networks, and this rollout is thought to be responsible for a surge in the number of mobile protest groups now in existence. But according to the mobile phone industry, these attacks won't have a major effect on the rollout of new data services -- but could cause serious damage to those responsible.

"Pulling down a mobile phone mast is dangerous, both to the perpetrators and people living nearby," said a spokesperson for the Mobile Operators Association (MOA), which represents Vodafone, Orange, T-mobile, O2 and Hutchison.

These five all operators all own 3G licences, which means they must have built 3G networks that cover at least 80 percent of the population by 2007. According to the MOA, erecting the extra masts needed shouldn't be a big problem.

"The operators estimated they will need a total of 48,000 mobile phone masts to hit the 2007 coverage requirement, and they have 40,000 at the moment," the MOA spokesperson explained. "The vast majority of mobile phone masts are built with no problems at all, and there is plenty of opportunity for people to make their views felt during the planning application process".

Back in 2001, the UK government commissioned an investigation into the possible health dangers of mobile phone masts. This inquiry concluded there was no evidence of a problem, but recommended a precautionary approach to the issue.

Topic: Mobility

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  • How many of these mobile mast campaigners own mobile phones? It is a bit hypocritical of them to damage mobile phone masts when they use the very phones that they are campaigning against! It is yet another case of the NIMBY syndrome (Not In My Back Yard).

    They get more radiation and greater damage from daily use of the phones themselves than they do from the masts!
  • This is no joke, I saw a person who had the scars/lumps on her arms and I asked her about them
  • Whilst I believe that we need to continue conducting research into the risks of technology, it's hard to give credence to campaigners that resort to (or condone) illegal and violent activity. Similarly, there seems to be little medical evidence beyond hearsay. A person with scars or lumps on their arms may well believe that they are caused by mobile phones, secret government research or demonic activity. Until there's medical evidence to confirm the cause, I remain sceptical. As to entire villages suffering with learning difficulties, let's see some published aptitude tests from the local school. If they're significantly below the national average, I'll start to believe.
  • The government should pass a law to force any network supplier who puts up a mast to sublet space on the mast to other networks at a reasonable set price. Then we won't have the ridiculous situation where each company puts up it's own masts. This will vastly reduce the number of masts needed.
  • Mobile 'phone companies only care about profits. The government are a bunch of whores, bought and paid for by the big networks. The "cancer masts" must be taken down - and direct action is the only way.
  • I work for a company who specialise in building and rigging mobile phone masts.Although many of the sites that we rig are not powered up we do have the odd occasion where we rig on shared sites.These sites are fully operational whilst we are working and to protect the rigging team we carry an RF metre which measures the RF output.These metres are set way below the recommended settings and if one goes off we are instructed to come down from the tower straight away,I can count the ammount of times one has gone off on one hand,which is exeptionally low considering I have been doing this job for close on five years.If it wasnt safe to do this work I dont think the operators would let us do the job,it would cost them a fortune in compensation if one or more men became ill doing this kind of work.
  • The goverment must research into no radiating masts and phones rather than 101 ways to get our money!

    Its either that or we force them to do it!