Kerala: Mobile towers on government buildings

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state government has decided to construct mobile phone towers on government buildings and critical locations and lease them to the telecom operators. This is a major relief to telecom operators who face hurdles in setting up mobile phone towers due to public protests. The Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) has been entrusted with setting up the 'shared towers' on the basis of the request of telecom service providers, according to a government order issued the other day.

In 2015, the then UDF government had decided to allow telecom operators to set up mobile towers on government buildings.  However,  the decision was later withdrawn owing to protests. At present, the state has  around 16,000 mobile phone towers. Most towers are shared by two or more telecom operators. The total number of base stations in the 16,000 towers is nearly 84,000.

Telecom industry sources said that Kerala had the highest mobile phone connections of 4.25 crore and hence the number of towers was insufficient. Setting up of hundreds of new towers in the state was stalled by public protests due to concerns of health hazards.  However, so far there was no medical or scientific evidence for any health hazard posed by mobile towers. The radiation levels from each tower is under strict surveillance of the Telecom Enforcement, Resource  Monitoring (TERM) cell of the Centre.

According to the fresh order issued by chief secretary K.M. Abraham, the shared towers on government buildings could provide better coverage with minimal infringement on public life. KSITIL will construct the shared towers after getting due clearance from the district telecom committees and a state-level high power committee headed by IT secretary considering factors like mobile coverage of the proposed location.  The view of the TERM cell will also be obtained before setting up the  towers. The rents will be fixed as per market rates.

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