Talking about radiations from base transceiver stations (BTSs) of mobile communication network, Rajesh Toshniwal, Founder & CEO of Toshniwal Enterprises Controls, tells Swati Sharma of EFY Bureau, how T&M companies help in adhering to the DoT norms
JULY 2011: Q. What are the biological and environmental effects of electromagnetic radiations from base transceiver stations (BTSs) of mobile communication network?
A. Conclusively nothing can be said on this because various agencies including WHO are currently undergoing the study of the exact effects of electromagnetic radiations, but then we know that high frequency definitely effects living things including birds and plants. This definitely is an issue and government of India has started taking actions and defined laws and minimum level of IR radiations permissible from a BTS. However, there is a misconception about the potential health hazard, that if you are standing next to a BTS you will suddenly fall sick. What I mean by misconception is, that the biological hazards or health hazards are still inconclusive. A few days back WHO said that mobile phones might cause brain cancer. But there is no provable link between health and these radiations. Mobile phone is very close to you when you are talking, but nobody goes and hugs a BTS station while talking.
Q. How does the level of radiation vary? How much percentage reaches the ground level?
A. If the permissible level of radiation is ‘X,’ we have found that everything is below at least to the decimal four or five. Say, if the acceptable level is ten, and if the power comes at 0.004, then you don’t have to be in a panic mode.
Q. In India the permissible limit is 9.2 watts per square metre, so where does India stand with respect to the existing standards globally?
A. There are some European countries where the limit is very low, but India has exactly copied the guidelines of International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), so we have not deviated from 9.2.
Q. Do you think that this is the right approach?
A. You have to start from somewhere. I believe a lot of awareness has been created, specially in the telecom sector. In last two years, you must have seen media and general public having discussion on it. Companies have started following the system of testing and submitting reports. Personally I have not come across any site where the radiation level is very high, but even if it is one instead of 0.004, telcom companies take corrective actions.
Q. How can test and measurement companies play a role in adhering with the DoT norms?
A. DoT has defined how the testing has to be done and the tools required, like spectrum analysers and isotopic antennas. We have been doing this testing for almost all the operators in the country to ensure that all the towers comply with the norms.
Q. What are the various challenges that service providers in India face in managing the radiation level?
A. One is that the numbers of towers are way too many, so practically managing 400,000 towers is a mammoth task. It might take up to five years to practically check all of them. Currently, it’s more of a compliance-mode rather than a corrective-mode. I believe that next thing that DoT will do is to reduce that level of 9.2, to say, three to keep a check.
Q. There are various domestic and international brands available in the T&M space. What are the parameters on which a buyer makes a purchase decision.
A. Talking with respect to checking electromagnetic radiations, DoT has its specifications, and there are three-four vendors who comply with them. There are instruments which are used in the world but they may not fulfil the DoT’s requirements. DoT says that no human interference should be there while testing, since some magnetic radiations are present in the human body itself which can cause error. Body works like an antenna; it takes the radiation and passes it to the instrument. So telcoms and agencies follow the DoT guidelines while making a good purchase decision.
Then there are brands you are familiar with; if you are getting an instrument of some brand for the same price as Agilent’s, which is a very famous and reliable brand, then you will definitely not go for it.
Q. Engineering service companies prefer to buy domestic brands or international brands for conducting these tests?
A. Usually its international brands they prefer because different customers may have different perception. These companies usually would like to buy one of the best things available in the market, so they can serve all kind of customers.
Q. Does India not manufacture high-end products?
A. Lot of things have started. Two years back we had to import the whole equipment. Now we manufacture lot of things in India except high-sensitivity spectrum analyser, which we import from the US.