Another battle against better cellular coverage

A Vodacom tower in Rooihuiskraal that has been operational since 2010 is the subject of renewed protests among residents, according to a report in the Centurion Rekord.

The report stated that ward councillor Casper McDonald, along with a number of concerned residents, is trying to arrange a meeting between all the stakeholders to get finality over the tower.

The residents’ main concerns are fear of the effects of radiation and the mast’s location, which reportedly is preventing the expansion of recreational sports facilities.

Concerns over the effects of radiation from cellphone towers were raised over Long Term Evolution (LTE) towers in Johannesburg early last year (2012).

Responding to the concerns, Vodacom, MTN, and other wireless network operators said that they adhere to international safety standards from recognised organisations such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

Electromagnetic radiation
Electromagnetic radiation

Rooihuiskraal tower ‘irregularities’?

The report goes on to quote McDonald as saying that “it seems some irregularities took place, which resulted in the consistent drive to force this tower development through without adhering to any procedures, policies and bylaw requirements.”

However, a letter from Alishea Viljoen from Smit & Fisher Planning dated 9 December 2009, which is quoted in Rekord’s article, explains at some length that the correct procedures were followed.

The process to erect the mast started in 2004, the lease agreement for the land was signed on 17 August 2009, and according to Vodacom, construction began that same month.

It was finally commissioned in February 2010 and now serves about 9,000 unique users per day, Vodacom said.

Should the tower be switched off, it would have a severe impact on network quality in the area, the operator added.

Asked whether this process was an example of the typical time it takes to roll out new towers, Vodacom said that getting approval for new sites is a big issue for them and slows down their ability to improve coverage and network quality.

“This case was however particularly drawn out and complex,” Vodacom said.

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Another battle against better cellular coverage