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MOA statement on ODPM announcement

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5 April 2005

The MOA and network operators look forward to working with the Government and other stakeholders on the research announced by ODPM on 4th April.

The ODPM research – to be commissioned to identify the future direction of mobile phone technology and the future needs of mast development – will need to take into account that there are now around 60 million mobile phone subscribers in the UK.

Many people increasingly rely on mobile technology as their primary means of communication. However, without a network of base stations in place where people want to use their phones, they simply will not work.

We would expect that the forthcoming research should reflect the Government’s recently published Digital Strategy – published only three days before – which acknowledged that the UK is “already a leader on mobile and wireless technologies” and expressed the desire that the UK should be “a world leader in allowing people to use or reach any content, with any device, anywhere, any time”.

The issue of sharing of masts was highlighted in the announcement and is one which the operators are consistently addressing. Operators share both sites and masts where possible. It is cheaper to share rather than build a new mast each time. However, it is not always technically possible as each network is planned slightly differently. A shared site can also be more visually intrusive than a single operator site because of the increase in height needed to accommodate two or more antenna systems.

The MOA will continue working with Ofcom on improving the effectiveness with which Sitefinder meets it intended purpose.

61% of UK adults access the internet from mobiles

Mobile phones cannot work without a network of base stations (masts). There are approximately 52,500 base station sites (excluding microcells) in the UK. Only a third of these are large, free standing masts. A YouGov survey for MOA (Sept 2014) showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people recognise the link between masts and good mobile coverage. Mobile telecommunications are vital for the UK’s economic competitiveness and in promoting social inclusion. There are now 89.9 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. In Q1 2015 61 per cent of UK adults used their mobile phones for internet access. Tablet ownership is 54% of UK households.

No Established Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, similar to those that have been widely used for decades, for example in radio, TV and radar signals. A large number of studies over the last two decades have found no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts.