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Mobile networks support record 48 million mobile phone users

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New developments such as photo messaging and the launch of 3G will provide further growth in 2003.

This widespread use cannot be achieved without base stations. There are now 35,000 radio base stations in the UK and more will be required for 3G services.

Mike Dolan, Executive Director of the Mobile Operators Association, said:

"The figures show that mobile phones are a key part of our daily lives. However given the very rapid increase in base station numbers it is understandable that some people have become concerned.

"Nevertheless, the industry hopes that communities will have taken comfort from an audit completed recently by the Radiocommunications Agency that found radio wave emissions were typically only a tiny fraction of the international guidelines. The highest reading anywhere was still fully 700 times lower than the guideline limit.

"The audit of 109 sites in 2002 supports the conclusion of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones that the balance of evidence indicates that there is no general risk to the health of people living near base stations, on the basis that exposures are small fractions of the guidelines."


Notes to Editors

1. The Mobile Operators Association (MOA), formerly the FEI was set up to represent the five UK mobile phone network operators - 3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone - on radio frequency health and planning issues.

2. There are 35,000 base stations in the UK, it is expected that there will be 40,000 by the end of 2003 for GSM and 3G services.

3. Market Information Mobile Update, published by Oftel Feb 2003 can be found at

4. Mobile Data Association figures for SMS can be found at

5. The Radiocommunications Agency 2001 and 2002 audit data is available on

6. The UK mobile phone operators are implementing the Ten Commitments to best siting practice. Key elements of this initiative are improved transparency, more publicly available information, and improved communication and consultation with local authorities and the public.

The Ten Commitments are:

  • develop, with other stakeholders, clear standards and procedures to deliver significantly improved consultation with local communities
  • participate in obligatory pre-rollout and pre-application consultation with local planning authorities
  • publish clear, transparent and accountable criteria and cross-industry agreement on site sharing, against which progress will be published regularly
  • establish professional development workshops on technological developments within telecommunications for local authority officers and elected members
  • deliver, with the UK Government, a database of information available to the public on radio base stations
  • assess all radio base stations for international (ICNIRP) compliance for public exposure, and produce a programme for ICNIRP compliance for all radio base stations as recommended by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones
  • provide, as part of planning applications for radio base stations, a certification of compliance with ICNIRP public exposure guidelines
  • provide specific staff resources to respond to complaints and enquiries about radio base stations, within ten working days
  • begin financially supporting the UK Government's independent scientific research programme on mobile communications health issues
  • develop standard supporting documentation for all planning submissions whether full planning or prior approval

5. For more information please contact Christine Jude 0207 331 2029, 0207 331 2029, 07714 241924, 07714 241924, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Nicole Hughes 0207 331 2052, 0207 331 2052, 07736 110787, 07736 110787, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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.