Use of our mobile network is sharply increasing as the volume of data traffic doubles every year. However expanding network capacity to cover this demand is a major challenge. People harbour reservations about mobile communication masts due to potential health risks, while rigorous limit values, outdated assessment methods and building regulations hamper and increase the cost of network expansion. Without an efficient mobile infrastructure we risk missing the digitisation boat.
We foster technical innovations in network expansion and advocate modern regulations to ensure that our network stays abreast of the rapid growth in usage.
In busy areas of cities we use microcells in cable ducts. They are run on low power and supply the necessary capacity as required.
Thanks to new technologies, mast efficiency is improving. For instance, 4G uses the radio spectrum around 30 times more efficiently than 2G, and 5G is set to top even this capacity by far.
We advocate a moderate relaxing of the 1999 installation threshold values from 6 to 20 volts per metre. This is still three times lower than the precautionary WHO and EU recommendations.
We propose an improvement in assessment methods in line with international standards based on a temporal and spatial averaging calculation instead of the maximum value calculation used currently.
Complementing the mobile network, Swisscom has built up a nationwide Low Power Network for applications with low volumes of data traffic such as sensor networking.
Switzerland requires a thousand new masts in the upcoming years to stay abreast of growing usage.
Jürg Studerus, mobile communication and health expert