Zambia hints at fifth telco operator

A fifth telco
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Enough room says
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Friday, Feb 21st

Radiation fears 'stall' Botswana cell tower roll-outs

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A growing number of Botswana’s urban and rural councils are rejecting installations of more communications masts amid fears of ‘harmful radiation’.

This is according to the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA), which says these local authorities are tasked with approving or disapproving the installation of cellphone masts, base stations and other infrastructure in their areas.

But radiation fears are denting the development of more communication infrastructure in some areas, says BOCRA.

"Operators have had their applications rejected, faced delays and even had withdrawals of permissions to build due largely to perceived harmful effects of cellphone masts," BOCRA compliance and monitoring director Godfrey Radijeng told a workshop on Tuesday.

"In many cases, landowners have said their rejections are out of fear of harmful radiation, for instance, exposure to students in the case of schools. There have been requests for removal of masts for fear of radiation as well as aesthetics," Radijeng added.

Radijeng said the roll-out of mobile phone technology nationwide is critical to the country's development, given its increasing dependence on ICT for delivery of services in remote communities.

"Network deployment is critical for economic and social activities," he said.

"Operators have to continuously upgrade and cover greater areas to cater for society. The failure to deploy network will result in poor or no network and the non-delivery of services such as banking, healthcare and others. It's all about the development agenda of today and technology is vital to the sending out and reception of information."

Meanwhile, BOCRA and Botswana’s government department of town and regional planning have unveiled the first draft of its guidelines on the location of communication masts, which are designed to help local authorities and land boards assess applications.

BOCRA has also published guidelines for infrastructure sharing among operators: a move expected to reduce capital costs as well as improve network deployment.

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