Poor cell phone signal? Here is the solution | Inquirer Opinion
As I See It

Poor cell phone signal? Here is the solution

/ 09:40 PM June 09, 2013

Residents of exclusive villages around the metropolitan area are torn between ending the signal problems on their cell phones or being exposed to harmful radiation from radio waves. There are numerous complaints of poor cell phone signal from residents of these gated villages where most of the residents are from the A-class of our society or expatriates working for their respective embassies or for multinational companies in the Philippines.

The main problem: no cell sites inside these exclusive villages. It is surprising to know this. I am not tech-savvy but as far as I understand, the technology behind mobile phones and cell phone coverage is dependent on the distance of the user from the cell sites of the mobile phone provider. The farther the distance, the lesser the quality of the cell phone signal. The same is true for those who use their mobile phones for data services, such as browsing the Internet and checking e-mails, which require more bandwidth than the voice and text messaging services.


But the problem is not with the telcos. The problem is that residents and their respective homeowners’ associations do not permit mobile service providers to put up cell towers inside their communities. For several reasons, primary of which is the location of the towers. Some residents feel that the value of the lots inside their villages, which are considered prime locations, is too expensive to be used just for a cell site. Also, the presence of a cell phone tower inside their village may not be aesthetically designed to suit the taste of residents. A big reason is the alleged risk of exposure to harmful radiation from radio waves that residents may be subjected to.

No less than the World Health Organization (WHO) has clarified that radio signals emitted for cell phone services are classified nonionizing radiation, which is relatively harmless like those coming from AM-FM radios or baby monitors, compared to ionizing radiation from x-ray machines, which are deemed to carry higher health risks. Furthermore, WHO maintains that there is no conclusive evidence associating exposure to radio signals from cell sites of wireless networks with adverse health effects.


But until our own Department of Health issues a categorical statement that radiation from cell sites is not harmful to humans, residents near these cell sites will remain paranoid about the presence of cell phone towers.

Now comes a new innovation that eliminates the cell phone towers but still gives cell phone users very clear signals. This is the Outdoor Distributed Antenna System (Odas).

The Odas solution effectively brings coverage much closer to residents through the installation of lamp posts that are built with radio signal transmission capability. Aesthetically designed like palm trees, the posts can be erected along the streets or within village parks, brighten roads and, more importantly, deepen mobile coverage by bringing radio signals closer to cell phone subscribers. This telecom service facility outside the home will let subscribers enjoy the benefits of a modernized network with a cutting-edge LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology that gives stronger signal for access to mobile data services. So far, only Globe Telecom has taken advantage of this new Odas technology.

The Odas solution may be the best alternative to cell phone towers inside exclusive villages. Should the homeowners allow the Odas solution, Globe said it will continuously tune its performance at every home, or every Odas lamp post.

Some exclusive villages have already taken the leap and tried this new, advanced technology for outdoor coverage, and residents have stopped complaining about poor signals. Globe’s hope is that other exclusive villages will follow suit to better serve subscribers in their respective areas.

But then again, the DOH will have to conduct investigations and testing and come out with a categorical assurance that there would be no harmful radiation from these lamp posts. The additional lamp posts will surely brighten poorly lighted streets where tree foliage block the light from higher lamp posts. But another question arises: Who will pay for the electric consumption of these lamp posts, the telco or the homeowners?

This saying may be true: “You can’t have it all.” Even the rich and famous have their own worries. Living in an exclusive village has its own set of exclusive problems, one of which is the quality of mobile phone signals. Globe claims to have the answer to that. It is up to the residents to take it or leave it.


* * *

For those asking me for the next show of singing sensation Margaux Salcedo at the Manila Hotel, here it is: This Thursday, June 13—a day after Independence Day—at the Tap Room, to start at 9.30 p.m.

Maybe the Manila Hotel should advertise her show in newspapers or have posters at the lobby to inform fans and hotel patrons about it. Most of the time, even the front desk does not know the date of the show. The hotel is losing a lot of potential patrons because of the dearth of information on Margaux’s shows.

Margaux is attracting a lot of fans, and music lovers are drawn to her singing style as well as to the old favorites in her repertoire that they miss from most contemporary singers.

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TAGS: business, cell phones, news, radiation, Telecommunication, World Health Organization
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