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Thu 3 May 2007 11:28 AM

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Vendors hit back at WiFi warnings

Industry claims wireless technology poses 'no health risks', amid recent safety concerns.

Vendors in the region have hit back at reports claiming wireless networks can be damaging to people's health, dismissing mounting international concern as unfounded.

Numerous reports in UK media over the past week have raised concerns over the safety of WiFi and other wireless technologies. The UK's Professional Association of Teachers has asked the government to conduct an official inquiry, while the chairman of the UK's Health Protection Agency is also understood to have called for an official investigation.

The issue has sparked global debate, with some countries in Europe, such as Austria, reportedly looking at banning WiFi technology altogether.

"We believe that based on currently available scientific research, there are no health risks associated with the use of wireless networking products," Intel, which has backed a number of high-profile wireless projects in the region, said in a statement.

An IT manager at the American University in Cairo, which has deployed a WiFi network, also dismissed the concerns, saying they were not backed by any scientific research.

However, some industry experts believe that such research should be conducted.

"As an industry, we have to conduct certain safety measures, we have to put test processes in place and monitor the environment to measure the actual effects of the emissions coming from WiFi devices," said Mark Hogan, technical manager of wireless consultancy firm LCC Middle East. WiFi radiation is however only a small part of the emissions in the environment, he added.

Ahmed Zeidan, channel sales manager for Netgear Middle East, said the "real harm" is from users' installing more WiFi capacity than they needed.

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