Today, I received the following e-mail. I am honored to be listed among the recipients. I bring it and the issues raised to your attention.
While we are discussing anti-corruption, Anna Hazare, etc., it is
important for all of us to also understand what is going in the
telecom industry (2G scam and so on) and the health hazards of cell
phone and cell tower radiations and how telecom industry and policy
makers are completely ignoring this fact.
I had attended TRAI Green Telecom open house in Delhi on March 18, 2011
and subsequently submitted attached 1+4 pages report. Please find time
to go through the report and share it with all your known people to
Here is the report.
Brief Report and Recommendations
Open-house conducted by TRAI on
on March 18, 2011
Dr. J.S. Sarma
Prof. Girish Kumar
Electrical Engineering Department
IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai – 400076
(022) 2576 – 7436
Report on Open-house conducted by TRAI on Green Telecommunications on
March 18, 2011 at PHD chamber, New Delhi
TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India), Delhi had floated a consultation paper on
Green Telecommunications on Feb. 3, 2011. It consisted of total 58 pages and was divided in
Preface, Introduction and three chapters.
Chapter I – Carbon Footprint of Telecommunications Industry
Chapter II – Moving towards Green Telecom
Chapter III – Issues for consultation
Chapter I described what is Green Telecom, what are Green House gases and carbon
footprint, motivation for Green Telecom and estimating carbon footprint. It mentioned that
India has around 3.1 Lakh telecom towers of which about 70% are in rural areas. Presently,
40% power requirements are met by grid electricity and 60% by diesel generators (DG).
Total consumption of diesel is 2 billion litres and 5.3 million litres of CO2 is produced.
(GK comments – Number of telecom towers are more than 4.5 Lakhs in 2011, so the above
numbers are outdated. Currently, Indian Govt. gives Rs. 7/litre subsidy to diesel, so total
subsidy for 2 billion litres of diesel is Rs. 14 Billion = Rs. 1400 crores per year to Telecom
Chapter II deals with domestic and global efforts for reduction of carbon footprint, methods
of reducing carbon footprint, promoting R&D for green telecom, and corporate social
responsibility. Several measures for reducing carbon footprint are described, such as,
adoption of energy efficient equipment, innovative technologies, renewable energy (solar,
wind, tidal, biomass, fuel cell, etc), infrastructure sharing, better network planning,
monitoring and reporting, incentive for green telecom, etc.
(GK comments – Why industry wants incentive for green telecom? Is it not our duty as an
Indians, not to pollute our own country, should we not care for our people and environment?
What are we going to give to the future generation?)
Chapter III consists of total 33 issues for consultation – 3.1 to 3.33
(GK comments – Some of the issues are much better known to TRAI, so asking for too
many issues deter common man to reply and that’s why there were only 25 responses from
the entire country.)
Report on Open House on March 18, 2011
Open-house regarding consultation paper on Green Telecommunications by TRAI started at
10:30 am. It was reported that there were total 25 responses and the distribution was:
3 from Consumer’s Group, 2 from Service Providers Association
5 from Service Providers and 15 from Individuals.
A brief presentation was made about Green Telecom and its importance. It was mentioned
that 59% of power consumption for various telecom towers is met by DG due to lack of
power supply. Total 33 questions were sub-divided into 3 groups. It was mentioned that as a
normal practice, first chance will be given to the consumer’s group and individuals followed
by Service providers and associations.
People from Telecom User Group and individuals mentioned about subsidy of diesel to the
tune of Rs. 1400 crores per year is given to Telecom industry, which should be recovered.
Also, DG creates lots of air pollution, sound and vibration. Telecom systems must be
optimized so that overall energy consumption is reduced. Antenna radiation pattern must be
optimized, cable losses to be reduced, transmitted power should be switched off or reduced
considerably in the night as cell phone use is only around 10%.
I mentioned that the transmitted power from the cell towers must be reduced from 100’s of
Watts to 1 to 2 W. This will reduce the harmful effects of cell tower radiation as it is causing
severe health problems to people, birds, animals, trees and environment. I asked all the
people present in the auditorium that I was told by one Taiwanese manufacturer that
maximum amount of power amplifiers sold in India has output power rating of 200W, is it
true? No Service Provider or Association answered that. After that, I said that since this open
house is not on cell tower radiation and it is on green telecom but by reducing the power
transmission from 100’s W to 1 to 2 W, the energy requirement will be substantially reduced,
there will be no need of cooling the high power amplifier, and thereby air-conditioning is also
not required in most of the cases. This substantially reduced power can be easily met by solar
energy or other renewable sources. This way, we can solve both the problems – reduce the
health hazard and reduce the carbon emission. Of course, reducing the transmitted power will
mean lesser distance coverage. This may require 10 to 20 Lakhs of towers or micro or pico
repeaters or in-building solutions, instead of approximately 5 Lakhs towers, which means
It was mentioned that renewable energy is expensive and also it is not available all the time.
For example, solar energy is not present all the times, wind is not everywhere, biomass may
not be convenient, etc. The operators said that it must be subsidized.
There was a discussion on Self regulation of the industry, there were divided opinions. It was
mentioned that Govt. should not try to regulate everything, Telecom operators must be
allowed to give self certification that they are meeting all the norms but other mentioned that
self regulation will not work until and unless forced.
(GK comments – Why self regulation/certification is only allowed to Telecom operators?
Why not all the people on the road give self certification that they did not jump red light, why
not all the criminals self certify that they did not do any crime, and so on – then we will not
need police, courts, lawyers, and so on. It will be true Ram Rajya.)
It was mentioned that 60% of cell phone calls are made from home, so fixed mobile
convergence should be used, i.e. transfer from mobile to fixed landline using copper or fiber,
which will also be useful for high speed broadband communication. However, compared to
other countries, India has a very small percentage of landline/fiber connectivity.
It was stated that in a village near Delhi, the cow’s milk yield has gone down from 5
liters/day to 0.5 liters/day after installation of cell towers. Also, sound and vibration of DG
People from service providers mentioned several measures being taken by them to reduce the
carbon footprint. They are now moving indoor BTS to outdoor BTS, which saves airconditioning
cost, newer BTSs are mainly outdoor, switching off few transmitters, automatic
frequency plan, air cooling instead of air-conditioner, better DG, better battery, using solar
and hydrogen fuel, use of e-bills will save paper, etc. However, it was countered that these
measures are incremental in nature, some tweaking done here and there, whereas what is
required is, orders of magnitude change.
Person from Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) mentioned
that Telecom industry has created Lakhs of jobs, provided cell phones to even extremely poor
people at an affordable price, and hence Govt. should not ask them to do anything which will
increase the cost. He said that others are jealous of growth of telecom industry and many
ministries are after them. He even mentioned that an IIT professor is talking about the
radiation hazard because he wants to sell his radiation shield. Since the attack was directly on
me, I replied that yes, I have a company named “Wilcom Technologies Pvt. Ltd.”, and we
have developed Radiation shield. Yet, I am insisting on reducing the radiation level to protect
the people and environment, and if the radiation levels are reduced then who will buy
radiation shield? I mentioned that it is the vested interest of telecom industry that they are
pumping out large power to save money but creating health hazard to the people. At this
point, chairman intervened, not to get personal.
(GK comment– Why chairman did not intervene when AUSPI person was getting personal?)
There were several other comments/suggestion, such as, umbrella coverage for reducing
carbon foot-print, more fiber optic networks, other countries do not have to use too much of
DG as they have better power grid, etc. It was also mentioned that indigenous development
should take place; more money must be spent on R&D activities, etc.
One thing was loud and clear, Service providers and their Associations want that they should
not be monitored, there should not be any regulation on them, and nothing should be
demanded which will increase the cost. I asked, “What is the cost of the human being, birds,
animals, trees, environment, etc.” – no answer given.
(GK comments – Telecom people are providing lakhs of jobs but they are also giving cancer
and serious health problems to lakhs of people, birds, animals, trees, etc. They claim that it is
the fastest growing industry but it is also creating fastest growing health problems, and that is
the reason, why health and environment ministries are after them. Telecom people say that
they are providing cheapest services in the world, but they take money from even the poorest
of the people in the country and take Govt. subsidy, and then nearly 40% of the total
collected money is given to foreign vendors. The technology could have been developed and
manufactured in India and then money would have remained in the country and also created
millions of jobs.)
1. Govt. must adopt immediate policy, say from March 28, 2011, to reduce the transmitted
power to maximum 1 to 2W, which will protect health of the people from harmful effects
of cell tower radiation. This may create signal problem to the people living near the edge
of the circle in the beginning, so public announcement must be made that this is being
done to protect health of the people. People must be educated about adverse health effects
of cell phone and cell tower radiations.
2. Once power transmitted is reduced, power amplifiers may not be required at most of the
places and no cooling will be required. This will reduce the energy requirement
substantially, which can be easily managed by renewable energy sources.
3. Once power requirement is reduced, DG will not be required in most of the places. This
will also save diesel subsidy amount of Rs. 1400 crores/year
4. The above measures will reduce carbon footprint thereby generating carbon credits.
5. Self certification/regulation must not be allowed. Govt. must enforce stringent policies to
monitor the radiation level, air pollution level, etc. near the cell towers. Monitoring must
be done by third party and extremely heavy penalty must be handed out in case of any
violation as it is directly related to the health of the people, birds, animals, trees,
6. All the people living close to the tower, who have suffered from the high radiation, must
be compensated. It should come under corporate social responsibility.
7. Greater emphasis must be given to R&D to develop better solutions.
8. Indigenous development and Indian manufacturers must be given the preference.
9. Govt. must make a rule that atleast 90% of the telecom related products must be
manufactured in India, this will help create millions of jobs in India and also most of the
money will remain within the country.
(Prof. Girish Kumar)
P.S.- GK comments in the above text are my comments, which I would have liked to make
but could not, and are not part of open house
Categories: business ethics