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Tue 17 Mar 2009 01:00 PM

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Cellphone towers spark health fears among Saudi residents

National Society for Human Rights claims it is illegal to set up mobile phone towers in residential areas

Residents in Saudi Arabia are worried by National Society of Human Rights (NSHR) claims that it is illegal to set up cellphone towers in residential areas based on fears that it poses negative health effects.

NSHR states that the minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Miteb issued a circular five years ago banning installation of mobile phone towers and telecom receivers in residential neighbourhoods.

Talal Qusti, head of the Environment and Safety Committee at the NSHR’s Makkah branch, went on to add that regulations have been ignored because of contracts signed with telecom companies.

Now telecom companies are hitting back at those claims by admitting to regional daily Arab News that they have not broken any laws and are adhering to procedures put in place well before the establishment of a telecom authority in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Telcom’s director for marketing and public relations, Abdulaziz Al Shamsan, said that STC was fully aware of regulations and has the necessary approval to install equipment in residential areas.

Al Shamsan commented that there are strict internal rules to ensure all operating telecom companies obtain permission from involved parties before installation.

Arab News cited specifications drawn up in November 2006 by the Communications and Information Technology Commission. Saudi Regulatory Communications Authority Article 34 clearly states that: “The operators after obtaining the approval of the property owner or his representative can enter a property and use it within the necessary limits for purpose of the construction, operation, and maintenance of telecommunications’ networks.”

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