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Sunday, August 09, 2009

On mobile phone masts

Personally, I welcome the proposal to make all mobile phone masts subject to full planning permission and I cannot see the validity of the phone companies' argument that to do so will somehow prevent them improving coverage across Wales.

It is not as if they are doing much now to make it easier for customers to use their mobile phones in Wales' many blackspots, whilst their reluctance to share masts and to allow roaming between operators actively disadvantages their customers and the communities they are meant to serve.

The current planning system of "prior approval" for masts is confusing for councils, companies and residents. It is already the case that a mast over 15 metres (49 feet) requires planning permission whilst those smaller than this still need a prior approval period of 56 days and even then they can be called in for planning approval.

It would benefit everybody to treat all masts equally regardless of size and will enable local Councils to adopt consistent policies regarding placement, scale and sharing that can be used as the basis for negotiation between the community and the phone company if need be, as well as introducing clarity into the process.
From what I understand, the idea of them sharing masts is completely unfeasable. Each part of a mast (most masts have three) can only handle around 13 individual actions at any one time (such as a call or text) with a further two slots reserved for the emergency services. It is frequently the case that people are unable to make calls because the individual mast is completely busy, even though their reception may be fine.

No network is going to share with another one and risk severely reducing the service to their own customers.

It has to be remembered that part of improving coverage is improving the number of masts in one area so more people can use the network at once. If a network has a particular concentration of subscribers in one place, they will need to be able to accomodate them.

Just because there is coverage, doesn't mean improvements do not need to be made.
I think the fact that the mobile companies themselves still offer the possibility of mast-sharing and the fact that in some cases they have actually done it means that the technical problems are not as insurmountable as you make out Matt. What they need to do is to mast-share more often .
Oh god no! Not more hypocrisy from a politician 'concerned' about mobile phone masts!

You all cannot help yourselves can you?

One day you are bleating on about these masts, endorsing and encouraging the public with their scientific ignorance.

The next day you are Twittering from your um... mobile phone!

Give us a break please!

For once - get off the damn fence and give people some leadership!
There is nothing hypocritical in this. I am not opposed to masts but I believe that we should be able to minimise their number if possible and ensure that they are sited sympathetically.
My life was very nearly ruined when BT tried to erect a 60' mast ... 20' from my bedroom. The local authority was no help, and it boiled down to there being a nursery a few more yards away to stop the nightmare. Anyone who thinks that this is a trivial matter, or that their 'right' to use a mobile trumps everything else ought to have one of the damned things in their own gardens.

And of course the networks can, and do, share, they just prefer not to. If proliferation were halted, they'd soon find even better ways to share too.
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