Saturday, August 31, 2013

BMc's Wi-Fi plan stirs up a hornets' nest

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s announcement of providing Wi-Fi service to all Mumbaikars may come across as modern, but a section of city activists has expressed concern over the plan, which is, however, in a nascent stage. Speaking to dna after a public awareness programme at Matunga’s Amulakh Amichand School against high radiation levels, activists said the corporation should do its homework properly before introducing the public to the wireless internet service. “If power transmission and radiation from a Wi-Fi router remain high, it is dangerous for us. Schools and colleges in the US have started cutting down on Wi-Fi service. If not installed properly, the system will lead to troubles,” Prakash Munshi, an activist, said, adding that even if a router, which facilitates wireless internet service within a room or office, has to be installed at proper place. It also has to be turned off when not in use.
“But who will regulate the Wi-Fi service with such ease? Apart from health aspects, the service may also pose threat to our security,” he said.
Activists have demanded that the corporation to install Wi-Fi routers at certain heights to avoid exposure to high radiations. “Installing devices on lamp posts to provide Wi-Fi won’t work. The corporation should ensure the devices are located above certain height,” said Nikhil Desai, member of city-based NGO AGNI.
According to Anuj Jain, who made a presentation to spread awareness amongst attendees: “The Wi-Fi hotspots, if not installed properly and at apt distance, it will lead to higher power transmission and radiation. If that happens, radiation in the Wi-Fi system will be as dangerous as that emanating from cell towers.”  Wi-Fi routers can transmit frequencies at 2.4 GHz. According to Jain, if installed at a distance of 100 or 200 metres, they can be least dangerous. “But if you increase the distance between two, the radiation and power transmission will be on the higher side,” he added. Despite several attempts, mayor Sunil Prabhu remained unavailable for his comment.
Meanwhile, actress Juhi Chawla-Mehta, who attended the public meeting, said, “We are against a giant industry (of telecom players), but people will have to come together to tackle it.”

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