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Cellular Antennas

 

 

Who doesn’t get annoyed when a call is suddenly cut off, or when there is no reception and every second sentence is cut off? Most of us use cellular phones, which have become a central tool in our daily lives. But, when it comes to cellular antennas, without which it would be impossible to conduct a cellular phone call, the public is suspicious and there is public resistance to the placing of antennas in residential areas or close to education institutions / preschools etc.

However, in contradiction to the widely held public opinion, the use of a large number of low power antennas, rather than increasing the overall exposure to radiation, in general actually limits it. When there is a lack of suitable cellular antennas coverage, cellular phone capacity to transmit and receive signals is low. In these circumstances, reception quality is poor and the amount of radiation emitted by the phone that is “trying” to communicate with the base station increases, exposing the user to unnecessarily high exposure levels of radiation.

 

אנטנה סלולרית על גג בית

Cellular antenna on the roof of a house

The Israeli Guidelines for exposure to non-ionizing radiation from antennas determine that the threshold for exposure levels to radiation from broadcasting sites should not exceed 10% of the exposure level determined by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)  recommendations in areas where people spend prolonged time periods, such as residential areas, offices etc. The exposure threshold should not exceed 30% of the exposure level determined in the World Health Organization recommendations in areas where people spend short time periods, such as sidewalks, roads etc.

One of the ways to reduce the public’s exposure to radiation emitted by antennas is via joint distribution of cellular antennas. This means participation of various sites via placement of their antennas and communication equipment in one common location. This enables the cellular companies to reduce the number of placement sites, to optimally plan distribution of the transmission facilities and to minimize the public’s exposure.

 

Citizens who are interested in receiving information regarding specific cellular antennas can apply to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. An interactive map can also be found on the Ministry website containing information on the date of establishment, activation and the most recent test for all antennas (in Hebrew).

 

A reliable test of the electromagnetic radiation level can be performed via a certified surveyor from the Ministry of Environmental Protection (link in Hebrew) or using measuring equipment approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The Ministry of Environmental Protection website publishes a list of individuals certified to perform radiation tests and a list of companies that sell radiation measuring equipment approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

 

 

The following review will present recommendations for exposure to radiation from antennas, the principles for antennas distribution, the bodies responsible for establishment and activation of antennas, the stages of the establishment process etc.:

 

Basic concepts included in this section

 

 

 

Antenna – device for transmitting and receiving radiofrequency electromagnetic waves.

 

Broadcasting station/site – composed of a number of antennas and can function, among other things, for radio, television and cellular communication transmissions.

 

Base station – this concept is usually used interchangeably with “cellular site” which constitutes a transmission/reception facility for cellular communication.

 

Wireless access facility – small telecommunications transmission device whose dimensions are no more than 30 X 50 X 80cm. the device functions, or is intended to function for access network reception and transmission, functioning at frequencies determined by the Communications Minister.

The base station and broadcasting site generally consist of the following devices and technologies:

Antennas, communication room, computer system, electricity supply facilities, means of integrating the base station in the global network.

 

Comment: transmission and receiving antennas are installed at cellular sites and in cellular phones.

 
 

 

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Background

Cellular broadcasting sites / base stations transmit radio frequency electromagnetic waves that are essential for cellular telephone function. Therefore, in order to allow cellular telephone reception and transmission, cellular antennas are widely distributed throughout almost the entire country.

 

In Israel today there are five companies operating full cellular communication systems (including infrastructure): Pelephone, Celcom, Partner, HOT Mobile and Golan Telecom. In addition to these, several companies exist that operate with a virtual operator model: Rami Levi Communications, Home Cellular and YOUPHONE (a company that supplies cellular services by paying for use of a regular cellular operator’s infrastructure). In order to supply service to consumers and to fulfil the conditions of the license provided to them by the Communications Ministry, each cellular company establishes a network of cells based on geographical division of the communications coverage area into cells each of which contains a broadcasting site in its center. The antennas in the cellular broadcasting sites are the sources producing radio wave radiation that is transmitted throughout the territory of each cellular cell served. These antennas are designed to provide transmission and reception to and from cellular phones. Antennas are usually installed in high places (on the top on towers, on the roofs of buildings etc.) in order to allow good transmission and reception conditions with appropriately wide coverage in accordance with communications coverage requirements.

 

Each antenna has a maximal user capacity in the region of the coverage area (cellular cell). Because of this, the more number of users grows, the greater the number of antennas needed to make communications coverage with good transmitting and receiving conditions possible. The additional antennas, which function as a type of back-up for the higher antennas, are usually lower power antennas, covering a smaller cell area and are therefore installed closer to users. An example of this is internal antennas in shopping malls, where tiny transmission antennas, covering small areas inside the malls are installed (extensive information on the distribution of cellular antennas can be found in the section on physical aspects).

 

Over the years there has been a significant increase in the extent of cellular telephone use in Israel, with a concurrent need to install a larger number of cellular antennas. In addition, technological progress and change has led to the requirement to install new antennas that can support these technologies.

 

As stated, alongside the increase in the extent of cellular telephone use, public suspicion regarding the proximity of antennas to places of residence and educational establishments / preschools etc. has increased. The fact is that in the absence of appropriate cellular antenna coverage the ability of cellular telephones to transmit and receive signals is low. Under these circumstances, reception quality is poor and the power of radiation emitted by the telephone “trying” to communicate with the base station grows. The user is thereby exposed to unnecessarily high levels of radiation from the cellular telephone.

 

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Recommendations on non-ionizing radiation exposure from cellular antennas in Israel

Recommended non-ionizing radiation exposure levels from cellular antennas have been determined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection for all broadcasting sites in the State of Israel. These levels constitute the basis on which all broadcasting sites, including cellular broadcasting sites, receive transmission approval 

The Ministry of Environmental Protection requirements (pdf in Hebrew) are that the threshold for exposure to radiation from broadcasting sites should not exceed 10% of the exposure level determined by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) recommendations in areas where people spend prolonged time periods, such as residential areas, offices etc. The exposure threshold should not exceed 30% of the exposure level determined in the World Health Organization recommendations in areas where people spend short time periods, such as sidewalks, roads etc.

The following table summarized the cellular antennas standards:

 

Frequency (app.)

ICNIRP exposure threshold

Israeli exposure threshold*

Second generation – 900 megahertz

450 microwatt per square cm

45 microwatt per square cm

Third generation – 900, 2100 megahertz

450, 1000 microwatt per square cm

45, 100 microwatt per square cm

Fourth generation – 1800 megahertz (in the future also 2600 megahertz)

900 microwatt per square cm (in the future also 1000  microwatt per square cm)

90 microwatt per square cm  (in the future also 100  microwatt per square cm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* for continuous and prolonged exposure

  • The values listed in the table are rounded (e.g., for the third generation, the frequencies are 869-894 MHz, 925-960 MHz, 2110-2170 MHz but in order to simplify the table, the values written in the table are only 900 MHz & 2100 MHz).

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Cellular antennas distribution

 

Cellular communication is communication based on geographical division of the communication coverage area into cells. The word “cell” is the source of the word “cellular”. Cellular telephone systems use a defined number of frequencies in each cell, so the number of users (and the number of subscribers) in each cell is limited.

 

The larger the cell, the higher the transmission power requirement, both from the mobile device and from the base station. This fact may cause greater exposure to radiation, especially from mobile devices functioning close to the user’s body.

 

The use of a large number of antennas designed to serve a densely populated area, rather than causing higher exposure to radiation may even reduce such exposure.

For more details, read the section on cellular antennas distribution – spatial distribution.

 
אנטנה סלולרית

        Cellular antenna

 

Who determines the distribution of antennas?

The cellular companies, functioning according to Communications Ministry licenses, determine the distribution requirements. Every cellular communication operator establishes a network of broadcasting sites in order to reach optimal coverage of the area. Broadcasting sites (transmission stations, transmitters, antennas) are designed to receive and transmit radio frequency signals. Each broadcasting site covers a geographical area determined by the antennas technical data.

 

The cellular companies determine the location of broadcasting sites in accordance with Ministry of Environmental Protection licensing and supervision. Permits to establish and operate cellular broadcasting sites are issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection after investigation to establish that the Ministry’s conditions are fulfilled.

 

Joint distribution

Joint distribution of cellular antennas involves sharing of networks between a number of competing cellular companies, whereby sites are shared through placement of the antennas and their communication equipment in one joint location. Cellular companies can thereby minimize the number of local sites. The cooperation mainly involves use of a shared mast, physical location and electrical network, and gathering together of the transmission elements to a smaller number of areas than exist today. An additional advantage to joint sites is the possibility to optimally plan distribution of the transmission facilities and to minimize the public’s exposure and concentrate them in predefined areas.

 

Joint sites for competing cellular companies have become vital because of the fact that the number of cellular companies has grown and the use of advanced technology (4th, 4.5th generation and in the future 5th generation) requires the establishment of new broadcasting sites or upgrading of existing sites.

 

In 2005 the government made the decision (in Hebrew) to establish a committee of the CEOs of the relevant government offices, which would make recommendations regarding rules for continued development of cellular communication in Israel. The committee’s recommendations (in Hebrew) determined that the cellular companies should use technologies enabling joint sites (making combined functioning possible).  

 

In the document formulated by the Ministries of Communication, Health and Environmental Protection on the subject of fourth generation cellular communication (June 2011), the inter-ministerial team recommended that the cellular companies should be obligated to establish joint sites. According to the document, implementation of the team’s recommendations regarding joint sites is a precondition for fourth generation infrastructure distribution.

 

As of today the agreement for network unification between Partner and HOT mobile has been approved and as a result a joint initiative has been established whereby both network companies establish one shared network supplying services to both the companies.

 

In addition, in a document on cellular antenna distribution within cities, the Ministry of Environmental Protection recommended (in Hebrew): “since the cellular cell and the broadcasting site capacity must simultaneously allow the number of conversations required by people situated within the cellular cell to take place, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, acting according to the preventive precautionary principle in everything related to radiation exposure, recommends increasing the number of broadcasting sites within urban environments, so that the cellular cell served by each broadcasting site can be made smaller, reducing the exposure to radio-wave radiation from cellular broadcasting sites.

 

The Ministry of Environmental Protection’s position is that cellular communication in cities must be based on a large number of broadcasting sites, whose location should be determined in cooperation with the public, in a transparent and egalitarian fashion, in accordance with clear and stringent planning and safety rules. The above rules were determined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection based on the preventive precautionary principle”.

 

All the considerations related to this subject can be read about in a Knesset Research and Information Center document on the subject of cellular antenna networks in Israel, published in January of this year (in Hebrew).

 

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Antenna establishment and operation

The process of establishment and operation of broadcasting sites has been determined in a number of legal sources such as:

  1. The 2006 Non -Ionizing Radiation Act
  2. The National Master Plan 36a
  3. The 1982 Communications Act (telecommunications and broadcasts)

These sources include, amongst other things, issuing of licenses or approval type for all radiation sources and instructions regarding approvals and necessary conditions to receive permission to establish cellular antennas. The Radiation Act deals with the subject of radiation safety, whilst the National Master Plan 36 deals with the procedure of establishing and building the antenna from an engineering – landscaping perspective.

 

 

The 2006 Non-Ionizing Radiation Act - this law, which deals with the subject of radiation safety, determines that in order to establish a radiation source, to operate a radiation source or to supply a radiation measurement service, prior permission must be received from the Ministry of Environmental Protection. All permits are limited to a specific time period and need to fulfil specific conditions.

 

A cellular antenna is considered a radiation source according to the legal definition, and therefore the legal instructions apply, and a license must be received to establish and operate it.

 

In order to receive permission to establish a cellular antenna (like all radiation sources), specific conditions, detailed in the law, must be met, including – estimation of maximal expected exposure levels from the radiation source based on technical data, operation of the radiation source for a defined period and performance of experimental measurements for a time period determined by the law. Also, in order to receive the final permission, a building permit must be received from the local authority (in cases where a building permit is required).

 

The 2009 Non – Ionizing Radiation Regulation addresses, amongst other things, the period for which permission to establish or operate a radiation source is valid, the obligation to undertake radiation measurements and to report the measurement results.

 

The National Master Plan 36a – a plan which deals with the national distribution of small and very small transmission facilities, and includes distribution of cellular transmission sources. The aim is to allow coverage for transmitting and receiving of wireless communication throughout the whole area of the state, while preventing radiation damage and minimizing damage to the environment and landscape, and with the purpose of maximizing the efficiency of the establishment procedure. The plan deals with the procedure for building cellular antennas from an engineering-landscaping perspective and includes instruction regarding public awareness.

 

The 1982 Communications Act (telecommunications and broadcasting) – Supervision by the Ministry of Communications is defined in the licenses that it issues to the cellular companies. According to the licensing conditions, every year the companies need to submit details of planned development and upgrade work for the next year. The Ministry is allowed to supervise the company’s activities in everything relating to fulfilment of the legal and licensing instructions, and this includes development and upgrade work on the cellular network. The Ministry’s approval is also required for the use of land to establish an antenna. The company needs to detail the sites where it requests to establish antennas, which official approvals it requires and for what reasons. The companies are required to report to the Ministry of Communications regarding compliance with service quality measures detailed in the licenses within the framework of the engineering report that presents, among other things, coverage for the network and its various systems.

 

Parties involved in establishment of cellular antennas:

A number of parties are involved in the procedure for establishing antennas:

 

  1. The cellular companies operating under state licensing. The cellular infrastructure is owned by the companies, and they are responsible for its maintenance. The engineering departments of the cellular companies determine the location of the broadcasting sites, subject to Ministry of Environmental Protection approval and supervision.
  2. The Ministry of Environmental Protection which is responsible for giving permits to establish and operate cellular broadcasting sites, empowered by the 2006 Non-Ionizing Radiation Act. The Act authorized the Ministry of Environmental Protection to deal with the subject of establishment and operation of radiation sources via radiation permits, in order to ensure their safe use. As stated the Act determines that in order to establish a radiation source, to operate a radiation source or to supply a radiation measurement service, a permit must be received from the head of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. According to the Act every radiation source must fulfil the Ministry requirements and, under conditions of maximal activity, must not cause the public to be exposed to radiation over the exposure levels determined by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Health.
  3. Construction of the antennas is subject to building permits from the local planning and construction committee (excepting cases where a building permit is not required, as detailed later).

 

 

Stages of the procedure for establishing a cellular antenna

The procedure for establishing a cellular antenna is dealt with by law and in the National Master Plan. In general, according to the law, a permit to establish and operate a cellular antenna is necessary and in addition, the procedure for approval to establish transmission facilities according to the National Master Plan 36a obligates receipt of a construction permit from the local committee (excepting cases where a building permit is not required).

 

The stages of the procedure for establishing a cellular antenna are detailed below:

 

1. Issuing of a cellular antenna establishment permit by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. An establishment permit is given prior to establishment of a new broadcasting site. The permit to establish cellular broadcasting sites determines conditions according to which the broadcasting site may not cause, in surrounding populated areas, exposure above the exposure level thresholds determined by the Ministry. The company is required to submit, in its request for a permit to establish a cellular antenna (pdf in Hebrew), amongst other things:

  • A report estimating the exposure level, in which the maximal expected exposure level of humans and the environment to radiation from the broadcasting site is calculated, by the most stringent method and based on transmission frequency, equipment and topography.
  • A document signed by a senior company staff member stating that all required means of limiting the exposure to radiation have been employed and that public exposure to radiation will be the required minimum.

 

2. Issuing of a construction permit by the local planning and construction committee

The approval procedure to establish transmission facilities according to National Master Plan 36a necessitates receipt of a construction permit from the local Committee (excepting cases where a building permit is not required). After receipt of an establishment permit from the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the company interested in positioning the antennas needs to receive a building permit from the local planning and construction committee, which is under the authorization of the local authority. A request for a building permit is dependent on the existence of an establishment permit issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, with respect to radiation safety. The local committee issues the permit after finding that the facility fulfils the National Master Plan instructions and, amongst other things, fulfils the requirements relating to safety ranges, antenna height etc. in the event of a request being denied, the cellular company may present an appeal to the regional appeals committee, which may petitioned for at the administrative matters Court.

 

3. Issuing of cellular antenna operation permit by the Ministry of Environmental Protection

The operation permit is issued after the broadcasting site begins operating. Receipt of the operational permit depends on fulfilment of all the conditions noted in the establishment permit, and approval from the Ministry of Environmental Protection supervisor, who checked and approved the report on radiation measurement around the radiation source.

 

When a cellular company submits a request for a cellular antenna operation permit (in Hebrew), it is required to submit, amongst other things:

  • A report on radiation measurements that were performed in the surrounding of the broadcasting site by a certified surveyor in accordance with the Ministry of Environmental Protection regulations. A construction permit (excepting cases where there is an exemption – namely wireless access facility and antennas inside buildings).
  • A license or approval type according to the 1982 Communications Act (telecommunications and broadcasting)

 

The National Master Plan 36a deals with the procedure for establishing broadcasting sites for mobile telephones from an engineering–landscaping perspective.

The plan, which was approved by the Government of Israel in the year 2002, is a National Master Plan, which determines guidelines for small and very small transmission facility distribution, including distribution of cellular broadcasting sites.

The National Master Plan includes instructions relating to the approvals required in order to issue establishment permits, the size of the broadcasting site, consideration of the landscape and the environment around the antenna, calculation of the safety ranges and limitation of the number and types of antennas.

The plan was updated over the years, its final formulation was approved in the year 2010 by the National Planning and Construction Council but has not yet received Government approval.

 

The request for a building permit to establish a cellular antenna in accordance with the National Master Plan, must be submitted to the local authority.

 

As of today there are facilities that are exempt from the need to receive a building permit from the local authority. These include, amongst others, antennas inside buildings. Regarding the exemption for wireless access facilities – according to the Planning and Construction Act these are exempt from the requirement for a construction permit, but due to appeals that were submitted to the Supreme Court there is a limitation on establishment of wireless access facilities with an exemption from the construction permit, as detailed below.

 

Permit validity

The validity of permits was determined in the 2009 Regulations for Non-Ionizing Radiation, and it varies from one year to 25 years, according to the type of radiation source and additional parameters. To receive detailed information see the detailed table in the first appendix to the regulation, in which type of radiation source, type of permit required and validity appear.

 

Removal of antennas operating without a permit

The law determines the conditions under which a permit may be cancelled or postponed or the removal of the radiation source may be ordered (in Hebrew). Amongst other things, the permit will be cancelled or suspended if it is proved that the permit was issued based on false or misleading information, if the permit holder infringed one of the legal instructions or one of the permit’s conditions, or if operation of the radiation source (for example, an antenna) endangers or may endanger the public or cause severe damage to the environment.

If the permit is cancelled, the Environmental Protection Minister is permitted to prohibit issuing of additional permits to the same permit holder for a determined period of time (after the permit holder has been given an opportunity to make his case heard).

 

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Wireless access facility

A wireless access facility is defined under the 1982 Communications Act (telecommunications and broadcasting) – a telecommunications device whose dimensions do not exceed 80 X 50 X 30cm.

 

According to clause 27 b (b) of the Communications Act (in Hebrew) – installation of a wireless communications device and installation of an anchoring device holding it on the roof of a building is exempt from the obligation to receive a permit according to the Planning and Construction Act.

 

Clause 266c of the 1965 Planning and Construction Act determines exemption for wireless access facility.

 

This means that the approval procedure to establish a wireless access facility differs from the approval procedure to establish other transmission devices in that it does not include receipt of approval from the local committee.

 

It should be noted that the exemption given to wireless access facilities is a planning and construction exemption but it does not exempt the device from the wireless access regulation, from the obligation to receive a radiation safety permit according to the Non-Ionizing Radiation Act. Therefore, the request to establish a wireless access facility always requires receipt of approval from the Ministry of Environmental Protection to construct and operate it according to the Radiation Act.

 

Wireless access facilities – the public discourse

In July 2007 the forum for sensible use of cellular phones and others petitioned the Supreme Court with a request to prohibit establishment of wireless access facilities for use in cellular communication with a construction permit exemption (Supreme Court 6477/08).

 

In 2008 the Attorney General took the position that according to the existing law, establishment of a wireless access facility does not require receipt of a construction permit.

 

In 2008 an inter-ministry team (the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Communications) was established in 2008 to assess the topic of establishment of wireless access facilities with an exemption form a construction permit. In June 2009 this team’s report was submitted. The representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of the Interior held the opinion that it would be appropriate to stop exemption arrangement, whilst the representatives of the Ministry of Communications held the opinion that the current arrangement should be continued.

 

In 2009 the Attorney General took the position that although it is legally permissible to establish a wireless access facility without receiving a construction permit, for reasons of reasonableness, in order to balance the various interests, it is not appropriate to continue to permit establishment of additional wireless access facilities without the Minister of the Interior enacting regulations to determine conditions for application of the exemption from the construction permit – “balancing” regulations.

 

In 3/2010 the draft of regulations for planning and construction were transferred to the Economics Committee, which undertook 3 discussions but has not yet approved the regulations to this day.

 

In 9/2010 because of the delay in enacting the regulations, by request of the Attorney General, the Supreme Court issued a temporary order prohibiting the 3 veteran Cellular operators – Pelephone, Celcom and Partner, from establishing additional wireless access facilities with exemption from a construction permit. The court restricted the temporary order with respect to the new operators (HOT mobile and Golan Telecom) (i.e. the new operators may establish wireless access facilities with exemption from a construction permit). It was also determined by decision of the Court (7/12) that the veteran operators are permitted to change an old wireless access facility for a new one, with the stricture that the new facility should be in the identical location that the old facility was. By petition the temporary order was extended (until further notice).

 

In 12/2013 the Attorney General informed the Supreme Court that the petitions that were submitted against establishment of wireless access facilities with exemption from construction permits should be accepted. The Attorney General’s opinion was that it would be appropriate to give a permanent order on petition, which would prohibit the 5 cellular operators from establishing additional wireless access facilities with exemption from construction permits, as long as the regulations balancing clause 266c of the Planning and Construction Act have not been enacted.

 

The situation today in actual practice: The Supreme Court decision that limits the establishment of wireless access facilities with exemption from construction permits remains unchanged – the veteran cellular companies can only change facilities that have become antiquated, and the new companies can establish wireless access facilities under restricted conditions.

 

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Measurement of radiation from antennas

Performances of radiation measurements are necessary in order to ensure that cellular sites do not exceed the approved radiation exposure level. Radiation measurements may be carried out by a certified inspector.

 

An individual wishing to perform radiation measurements must receive a permit to supply a radiation measurement service in accordance with the Non-Ionizing radiation Act. The individual requesting a permit must fulfil certain criteria before receiving the permit, such as appropriate professional training and ownership of appropriate equipment and means to supply the radiation measurement service. The Ministry of Environmental Protection certifies permit holders to perform measurements of non-ionizing radiation.

 

A list of non-ionizing radiation measurement permit holders is published on the Ministry of Environmental Protection website (in Hebrew). The permit is named and personal to the individual who has undergone professional training, and owns the appropriate equipment to perform measurements. The equipment must also be calibrated every year in an authorized laboratory. The permit is renewed when the equipment is calibrated.

 

According to the regulation, receipt of a permit to establish a broadcasting site is contingent on performance of a preliminary survey to estimate the hazards, carried out by a certified inspector and receipt of an operation license is contingent on a certified inspector performing measurements of the radiation emitted during operation of the radiation source holding the permit. The measurements should be carried out when operation begins and at the end of every year of operation.

 

Systems for monitoring radiation from cellular antennas

In September 2010 the Noise and Radiation Prevention Department of the Ministry of Environmental Protection implemented a novel system allowing the department to monitor the transmission –powers of all third generation cellular antennas distributed throughout the State continuously and in real time. This tool allows the Ministry to identify any abnormal activity of transmitting antennas in real time and thus constitutes an important means of ensuring compliance with the law whilst benefitting the public welfare.

 

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Public information

Public -information is a critical element in creating dialogue and mutual trust between Government Ministries, the cellular companies and the wider public. In the past this dialogue did not exist and the cellular companies “established antennas in the dead of night, suddenly, in order to minimize friction with the residents”. The cellular companies understood that this was the wrong course to follow and established the Cellular Companies’ Forum in order to deal with this subject. The Government Ministries publish up to date material to the public and an interactive map that allows the public to receive up to date information on this subject. They also allow the public to be a partner, among other things via submission of objections in the framework of the process for receiving construction permits.

According to the Non-Ionizing Radiation Act and the regulations enacted by virtue of the Act, the Ministry of Environmental Protection must publish up to date information in its possession, including:

  • List of holders of permits that have been cancelled or suspended
  • Location of radiation sources requiring permits
  • Estimations of exposure levels
  • Results of tests of radiation sources requiring permits
  • Results of measurements of radiation emitted during the operation of radiation sources
  • Requests for establishment permits

 

According to the regulations, the information must be published on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and updated every month. A list of active cellular antennas, including data about those antennas, updated every month, can be found on the Ministry of Environmental Protection website. As noted above, the Ministry also monitors the transmission suppliers of each antenna continuously.

 

Citizens interested in receiving information about specific cellular antennas can apply to the Ministry of Environmental Protection as detailed in the link. An interactive map can be found on the Ministry website including information on the dates of establishment, operation and last measurement for each antenna.

 

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Fourth generation cellular communication

Fourth generation technology allows transfer of a large amount of data at an extremely rapid rate. In Israel, and around the whole world, there is an increase in demand for broadband wireless communication services which allow transfer of large amounts of data at increased speed.

In order to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the introduction of this new technology, various Government Ministries have formulated a justification document in which they set out their position on the subject of use of this technology. The position of the Ministries of Communication, Health and Environmental Protection:

On 7.5.2012 a justification document regarding fourth generation cellular communication (in Hebrew) was published including the position of the Ministries of Communication, Health and Environmental Protection. The aim of this document was to check the advantages versus the risks of fourth generation cellular communication. The investigation was carried out, among other things, against the background of the following facts:

  1. The CEOs committee report on the subject of cellular communication distribution in Israel (in Hebrew). One of the committee’s recommendations was that before the transfer to the new generation of cellular communication, the Government would hold a public discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of such a transfer. The Government recorded the recommendations of the CEOs committee, including the recommendation to hold a public discussion.
  2. The 2006 Non-Ionizing Radiation Act, determines that with everything related to non-ionizing radiation, conduct should be according to the preventive precautionary principle. In accordance with this principle, before the fourth generation technology is introduced, thorough investigations should be conducted into the possible damages versus the advantage for the public and for individuals.
  3. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) statement, according to which radio frequency radiation, including cellular radiation, is a possible carcinogen
  4. The Attorney General’s position as presented to the Supreme Court, according to which the relevant Government Ministries, i.e. the Ministries of Health, Communication and Environmental Protection need to act to prepare a joint justification document that can be published for public comment, thereby allowing a public discussion to be held.
 

It is important to note that in the Supreme Court decision on the subject of wireless access facilities (above, 5045/06) the petitioners requested that the State be instructed to act to establish a public discussion on the question of the necessity of introduction of use of “fourth generation” cellular communication, in accordance with the recommendations of the CEOs Committee from 2005. In the opinion of the Attorney General, conduction of public discussion was unnecessary because a public hearing on this subject had already been held (the joint document from the Ministries on the subject of introduction of fourth generation technology and the individual positions of each Ministry were published on 14.5.2012 on the Ministry of Communication website. Within the framework of this publication the public was invited to submit comments on the above documents, and the Ministry of Communication indeed did receive comments from various parties). The Attorney General claimed that publication of the above documents and invitation of the public to submit their comments constituted full execution of the CEOs committee recommendation.

Amongst other things, the justification document of the Ministry of Communication, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection includes the following:

  • Distribution of the fourth generation cellular infrastructure should be done by means of the existing antennas, with the addition of up to 30% additional antennas, and distribution within buildings.
  • Distribution of the fourth generation cellular infrastructure should be done by means of small and very small antennas and equipment inside and outside buildings and with the use of wired communication lines, under all circumstances when this is possible. In this manner, data transfer will be mainly via wired communication lines and not via the cellular facilities, and will not cause significant increase in the public’s exposure to radiation.
  • At the time when the regulations for equipment inside buildings are determined, the Ministry of Communications will act according to international regulations in order to ensure that the equipment to be used inside buildings in Israel is optimal.

 

It was also clarified that the large cellular companies have already launched the fourth generation network and that the frequencies inventory in Israel today, particularly that which allows fourth generation services, is limited. Because of this, and for the purpose of promoting advanced broadband wireless infrastructures, which will allow provision of reasonable fourth generation services in Israel, the Ministry of Communications decided to publish a tender for fourth generation frequencies. In the tender that was published in June 2014, the Ministry determined conditions for the procedure whereby frequency bands by whose means it would be possible to supply fourth generation services in Israel would be allocated. At the conclusion of the procedure, the 6 companies that took part – HOT mobile, Golan Telecom, Partner, 018, Celcom and Pelephone – won allocation that would allow them to supply services to the consumer at greater rates. Accordingly, 3 fourth generation networks are expected to be established: Golan Telecom and Celcom, Partner and HOT mobile, and Pelephone (Xphone which also won a tender will apparently join one of the three networks). At the time when the survey was written, the agreement between Partner and HOT mobile to unify networks was approved and because of this agreement a joint enterprise was founded whereby the two companies will establish one joint network supplying services to both companies. The Ministry of Communication rejected the agreement between Celcom and Golan Telecom to unify their networks.

* Prof. Stilian Galberg, head of the Department for Noise and Radiation Prevention and Gil Cohen, head of the Non-Ionizing Radiation Section at the Ministry of Environmental Protection were consulted for this survey.

 

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List of sources

Updated on: 18.4.2017