Homeowners Paid To Hide Phone
Life Bluetube Headsets
Cell Phone Towers Health Effects
EM Field Meter
Cell Phone Sensitivity
By Daniel Foggo
They have been concealed in church spires, petrol stations
and even treetops. Now, telecom companies are offering
people thousands of pounds to hide mobile telephone masts in
their homes. An investigation by The Telegraph has found
that four of the five network providers were prepared to put
up a concealed mast on a home and pay as much as £7,000 a
year in rent.
Two companies volunteered to conceal the masts inside
chimneys, burglar alarms and drain pipes. One company said
that placing masts on homes avoids having to apply for
planning permission. Although government scientific advisers
say there is no evidence that mobile telephone masts
threaten health, opposition to them is growing across
Britain. Studies show that radiation from the masts
suppresses melatonin, a hormone affecting sleep patterns,
and most companies have followed government advice not to
site them in schools.Despite the concern, when an undercover
reporter posing as a homeowner in Enfield, north London,
spoke to the main network providers, almost all were willing
to site a mast on his house.
Tanja Gundolf, the north London acquisitions manager for
Hutchison 3G, said that one of the company's 4ft antennae
could readily be concealed on his home. "More and more
people in England are now having them on private houses and
we do have houses all over the country now," she said. "It
makes it easier for us because, planning-wise, it's easy to
do a stealth option [a hidden mast].
"We hide them behind chimneys, we colour them according to
brick walls. We exchange existing chimneys or extend them a
little bit higher. You would not be able to tell that this
is not a real chimney and that it actually has antennae
behind it. "We run cables in drainpipes and stuff like that.
We can make telecommunications sites almost invisible."
When told that people might object if they saw the mast on a
neighbouring house, Ms Gundolf dismissed their concerns.
"There are always people complaining. As long as they can't
see it and they can make the phone calls, that's all that's
important to them anyway."
The latest aerials, she said, "hardly weigh anything and you
can hardly see them. It's really easy to tuck them away.
Wherever possible we now do that because it causes less
trouble and makes life easier for all of us."
Ms Gundolf, who said that home owners could expect about
£7,000 rent if a property was accepted as being in an area
in need of additional coverage, proposed a site visit and
took details. Later she rang back to say that Hutchison 3G
had just placed a mast on a nearby site. Ms Gundolf was told
of another property in Hull which was near a school and
asked if that would be a problem.
"We have a policy of not placing them on schools," she
replied, "but if your house is near a school then that's not
necessarily a problem."
Orange, the next company approached, was equally
enthusiastic. "We are looking for homes in Enfield
definitely," said Ian Ratcliffe, the regional acquisition
manager. "Have you got a good signal? Enfield has been quite
contentious for us. We tried to put a couple of
lamppost-type installations in one area which the residents
felt very unhappy about. Enfield is now deemed to be quite
proactive in people being against masts. If you can send us
details we will certainly be in touch."
When told that neighbours could object to the antenna, Mr
Ratcliffe said that there were ways to "mask" it. "You can
replace a downpipe, for instance. You can put up a small
antenna which would be covered by a burglar alarm box - all
the equipment goes inside so we don't need planning
permission for it.
"There are various potential aesthetic options that we have
which, if the location was of use, we would agree with you.
If the installation is immediately adjacent to other
properties, then we have an obligation to talk to them.
"How near is near depends on a lot of things . . . You don't
necessarily have to tell the whole road."
For what Orange calls a "microcell" - a middle-sized antenna
- his company would pay a rental in London of "about £2,000
a year". Wayne Kemp, a customer resolution executive at O2 ,
said: "We can do residences - it all depends on whether the
site is going to generate money for us. We take your details
and then if we find we need a site in that area then yours
would obviously be considered."
When it was suggested that the mast should be concealed from
neighbours, Mr Kemp said: "We would not purposely go out to
deceive people, or go behind their backs. We would let
people know that we are installing a transmitter. We do
consult them. It depends on what type of site we install."
Alana, a customer service representative from T-Mobile, said
that the reporter's house was not immediately suitable as a
site for a mast but did not rule it out. "It's unlikely, but
we do build on blocks of flats," she said. "It would make no
difference if it were private or council-owned. I can send
you a form." Only Vodafone said that it did not consider
residential properties as sites for its antennae.
Lisa Oldham, the director of the pressure group Mast Sanity,
called the results of The Telegraph investigation
"I am stunned that they have been so open over the phone,"
she said. "It goes to show that some companies are prepared
to conceal antennae from residents, not just for aesthetic
reasons but also to keep them in the dark.
"They don't need planning permission for many antennae so
you could have someone next door who has a mast and you
don't know about it and are not entitled to do anything
She added: "Can you imagine the reaction of many neighbours
when they find out the house next door has a secret mast
sending out radiation? People will get very angry indeed."
Plano Texas USA
Czech Rep, Prague
Hamilton Victoria Australia
Raleigh North Carolina USA