Beating the 5G: after the Supreme Court ruling the telcos demand framework to speed up network deployments

by Kelvin
Beating the 5G: after the Supreme Court ruling the telcos demand framework to speed up network deployments

Following the ruling that said municipalities cannot be above federal regulations, the sector discussed how to favor deployments

Did you die for heating coffee or food yesterday in the microwave? Or for dispatching yourself every time you can a series marathon? No, and surely you are going to die for anything else than for the radiation of those devices. Nor for being surrounded by mobile phone antennas. That excuse is no longer going against the installation of these devices in places where people, such as schools and hospitals are concentrated.


"It will take about 40,000 new sites for antennas and radiobases in the country and be able to adequately supply the new generation of 5G cellular telephony. This represents approximately three times those existing today, going from approximately 20,000 to 60,000 sites," he said. consultant Sebastián Cabello, digital policy expert during the Convercom meeting.

The issue of antennas, the need to streamline permits for installation and set aside fears for potential health risks, turn out to be the two fundamental aspects to drive faster network deployments.

Because it is a requirement of both mobile and fixed services. Not only of voice communication but, mainly, of current and future services, from streaming audio and video to electronic commerce, home banking, the use of social networks, online courses, among other endless activities mediated by connectivity.

While the infrastructure deployments for 4G continue to progress – with the difficulties that the current situation imposes – experts are wondering if the obstacles that have been suffered since 2G until now in bureaucratic terms will continue to be repeated. Especially, before the advent of 5G.

Returning attention to deployments is no accident. The conflicts between the telecommunications companies and the municipalities for the different requirements, impositions and other procedures to follow to install an antenna are historical.

The ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (CSJN) last July determined the unconstitutionality of an ordinance of the municipality of General Güemes, in Salta, which provided for the transfer of cell phone antennas for interfering with federal regulatory competition.

In other words, a municipality cannot make decisions above what the Nation has. In this case, in relation to network deployments. The determination was not only a relief for the sector but the expectation is that it set a precedent for conflicts to stop repeating themselves.

The cause began 10 years ago when Telefónica Móviles Argentina obtained the authorization for land use in order to install a supporting structure of antennas (tower) in the municipality of General Güemes. After authorization was given, an ordinance was issued ordering the relocation of that antenna. From that moment, Telefonica Moviles Argentina and Telefónica de Argentina initiated a case to declare the unconstitutionality of the ordinance 299/2010 of the municipality in question.

In 2016 he arrived at the CSJN who gave his ruling just over a month and a half ago. That is, they spent almost 10 years to define the fate of an antenna and a site "that was closed for 10 years, without providing services because you could not even enter to do maintenance or anything," said Nicolás Capelli, legal affairs manager and Telefónica disputes.

For the lawyer, from the ruling of Justice, Salta is expected to issue a new sentence. In that sense, Agustín Garzón, one of the members of the board of the National Communications Agency (Enacom), said that this determination "enables us to have a new regulation to set clearer guidelines around deployments."

Without connectivity there is no activity

That there is no antenna in service, or tens, or thousands, is always against the user. Because, in the first place, the quality of the benefits is affected and, secondly, because, from a technical point of view, there is less radiation than antennas. Precisely, what you want to avoid and what people don't want to be exposed to.

"When there are fewer antennas, the cell phone still wants to communicate, and that demands more effort. That ends up impacting on battery consumption, which is what users want to avoid," said Miguel Angel Staiano, a telecommunications engineer at the National University. of La Plata (UNLP).

Staiano explained that while an AM radio antenna radiates more than 10,000 watts of power, that of an FM does it above 1,000 watts, the same as a microwave oven that "without grounding fires radiation everywhere", described.

The cellular antenna, on the other hand, radiates 40 watts, and the one located in the town of Güemes, which motivated the dispute of the decade, recorded "0.000631 milliwatts / square centimeters, the maximum allowed being 0.2 milliwatts / square centimeters , that is 316.95 times less than the maximum allowed which is 0.3% of it, "said the expert.

The measurement was made on Rodriguez Street, between Rivadavia and Alberdi, in Güemes. Staiano also recalled that the antennas form the least likely group to cause cancer, according to data from the International Cancer Research Center (IARC), belonging to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hence the provocation of the beginning of the note. No one died from food heated in the microwave. And nobody got a terminal illness because they were exposed to a properly controlled antenna.

"All this (the radiation) decreases with the square of the distance. An antenna located 100 meters arrives with a radiation 10,000 times lower than what it emits. Society does not have to lose control, so it has the institutions and agencies that they take care of that task, "added Staiano.

In another case, the engineer revealed that in a town in the province of Buenos Aires, the neighbors had asked to remove an antenna for cancer cases that had occurred in the area.

"But it was not the antenna. After several measurements that indicated a very low emission of the antennas we found a workshop that threw burnt oil and cleaning water from machinery with agrochemicals to a well that reached the water tables. However, what what was striking was the antenna tower, to which the pollution was attributed, "he explained.

For that reason, Marina Rosso Siverino, president of the Commission for Technology, Innovation and Digital Transformation of the Argentine Center of Engineers (CAI), insisted that "there is a lack of communication linked to radio bases. Both what it means to have an antenna nearby, as a TV, a microwave or a radio, which radiates much more than cell phones. "

If the advent of 5G will involve the installation of many thousands more antennas, in various formats such as small cells (small antennas that can be located in the lighting poles, traffic lights, and other structures distributed in the cities or, even, inside the buildings) it will be necessary not only to eradicate fears but also to ensure that the qualifications do not encounter obstacles along the way.

"You have to put many small cells when 5G comes. Distribute them on many sides because they need to have direct view with the devices they connect to. And, logically, more exhaustive control will also be necessary because more often there will be more energy," Staiano said. .

Antennas in the river?

A more provocative position on the antennas was the one presented by the Secretary of Communications, Héctor Huici, who described that on one occasion, "when the numerous regulations to place mobile antennas in a municipality in the south of Greater Buenos Aires, that is, that it was so many meters from schools, hospitals, homes, and so on, it turned out that the only place available ended up being the Río de la Plata. "

This was to demonstrate, once again and after Staiano gave the scientific reasons why the antennas do not represent a health hazard, those provisions that establish that these structures must be 500 kilometers from any of the mentioned facilities.

Obviously there are things about the regulations and the fundamentals that inspire certain dispositions or sentences that are far from scientific explanations and, in many cases, very close to ridiculous.

Huici raised the bet in relation to what would be a country without this infrastructure. And he argued that if there were a hypothetical massive blackout of cellular antennas and only those free of any objection were in operation "there would be a public reaction because the service would work very badly."

The different speakers presented cases from different countries where it was achieved, little by little and by the hand of various strategies – where communication proved key -, lower resistance and face deployments with agility. Knowing that the municipal bureaucracies not only apply to the installation of an antenna but also when you have to perform a work or any other task that responds to network deployments.

In fact, Rosso Siverino highlighted the regulations that are being issued in different provinces, such as San Luis, Misiones, and Córdoba "that already understand the importance of site deployments. And the difference is noticeable when the provinces lower the regulations, because the municipalities quickly adapt. "

Sonia Agnese, an analyst at Ovum, agreed and argued that the one-stop-shop system is a good option for the sector not only because it centralizes but because, when a conflict occurs, it is resolved in a single space. "These 40,000 additional antennas that are needed to give 4G are still" a minimum "and their estimate of needs is even higher," than what can be calculated so far, he said.

They agreed, in general, that infrastructure sharing is imposed as a solution that benefits the private sector because it saves time in bureaucracy and deployment. If there is service, it is assumed that there is also consumption and that, at the end of the chain, translates into a better collection by the state actors involved in it. A good way, in addition, to prevent the idea that nobody will die by a mobile antenna, nor to heat the coffee in the microwave.

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