Shreenivas S. Galgali, Advisor, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Bengaluru, said there is no conclusive scientific evidence to prove that the electromagnetic radiation from cellular mobile towers causes health hazards.
Addressing concerns over electromagnetic radiation emanating from cellular mobile towers posing health risks at a Consumer Outreach Programme organised by TRAI in Mysuru on Monday, Mr. Galgali said scientific research in the area has been going on, but it has not yet been proved that the radiation from the towers affects health.
However, he said the details of electromagnetic radiation from each of the cellular mobile towers across the country had been uploaded by the respective service provider on Tarang Sanchar, the Department of Telecommunication’s (DoT) portal for sharing information on mobile towers and EMF (electromagnetic field) compliance. People can check the details of radiation from the mobile towers in their locality. Also, the DoT checks 10% of the mobile phone towers to reconfirm the radiation details put up by the service providers, he added.
According to Tarang Sanchar website, World Health Organisation (WHO) has referred to approximately 25,000 articles published around the world in the past 30 years, and based on an in-depth review of scientific literature, has concluded that “current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic field”. Since the effects on human beings are to be studied over a long period of time, further studies are going on around the world, the website added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Galgali said research was going on not only on radiation from mobile towers affecting human health, but also radiation from mobile phones and remote control units of television and other electronic devices.
Linking Aadhaar and mobile numbers
The process of linking Aadhaar numbers with mobile phone numbers had been put on hold following a stay by the Supreme Court, he said.
The mobile phone subscribers were asked to link their Aadhaar numbers with mobile numbers following a Supreme Court direction at the behest of DoT and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that mobile phone numbers are not misused, he added.
Telecom tower fraud
Mr. Galgali also cautioned people about the ‘telecom tower fraud’. He said fraudsters approach property owners pointing out that their property has been chosen as a good location for the erection of a mobile tower for which they will receive handsome remuneration. But, after convincing them to pay an advance, the fraudsters escape with the money.
If fraudsters approach property owners claiming to be representatives from TRAI, Mr. Galgali sought to make it clear that TRAI has no role to play in installation of mobile towers. Moreover, if the fraudsters claim to represent a telecom company, the property owners would do well to check with the company, he stressed.
Some even manage to convince mobile subscribers to divulge sensitive information like an OTP (one-time password) for a fraudulent banking transactions by convincing their victim that their OTP had mistakenly been sent to the latter’s number, he warned.
‘35 cr. people have availed MNP’
So far, 35 crore mobile subscribers have availed Mobile Number Portability (MNP) facility in the country, Mr. Galgali said.
MNP was launched across India in January 2011. Mobile phone subscribers, dissatisfied with the service offered by one telecom company, can shift to a different service provider, but retain the same number under the MNP facility.
According to a TRAI release, the total wireless telephone subscribers in the country was 116.74 crore on December 31, 2017.
Fielding queries from the audience at a Consumer Outreach Programme organised by TRAI in Mysuru on Monday, Mr. Galgali said they had received a number of complaints from consumers over MNP. “Soon, the manual process involved in MNP will become electronic,” he said.
When a member of the audience complained that Reliance telecom closed its operations without any advance notice, leaving many subscribers high and dry, Mr. Galgali said TRAI has now come up with a detailed procedure on the closure of a telecom company. However, he said the subscribers of the closed telecom company were given the option of shifting to a different service provider through MNP.
To a question, Mr. Galgali said telecom companies are obliged to provide call details up to a maximum of six months. Law enforcement agencies can, however, obtain call details up to a year, for investigation purposes, from service providers. However, a subscriber will not be given the call details of another subscriber.
TRAI, Mr Galgali said, had come out with free applications – MyCall, MySpeed and Do Not Disturb. While the MyCall app provides a platform to all telecom subscribers in the country when they face issues like low voice quality, the MySpeed app allows the subscriber to measure their data speed experience and send the results to TRAI. Similiarly, the Do Not Disturb app with an intelligent spam detection engine for SMS also helps in crowdsourcing data on offending messages and calls to detect unregistered telemarketers. – The Hindu