Will telephone operators take advantage of confinement to increase the installation of relay antennas in France? This is a question that arises Reporterre since the orders issued in application of the health emergency law authorize operators to new “radio installations” to cope with the increase in the use of digital technology. Several associations fighting against the waves fear that they will take advantage of this exceptional regulation to install relay antennas almost everywhere in France.
In practice, the texts authorize the telephone operators to adapt the “applicable procedures to guarantee the continuity of the functioning of the services and these networks” while the Internet networks are taken by storm during confinement. When the internet network saturates, they can therefore add bandwidth without the usual authorizations. “It is a question of being able to intervene in emergency to restore the integrity of the network in this unprecedented period of confinement”, assures Reporterre the French Federation of telecoms. However, the Federation wishes to reassure by specifying that the operators will install “temporary equipment, which must be dismantled at the latest within two months after a state of health emergency”.
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What worries is the lack of information obligations of town halls, and therefore of users. Under the health emergency law, “the obligation to transmit an information file to the mayor or to the president of the intermunicipal authority with a view to operating or modifying a radio installation” is suspended. Sophie Pelletier, president of Priartem, an association which works on the risks linked to exposure to electromagnetic waves, assures Reporterre that “this situation annihilates the capacity of the communities to ensure the information and the instruction of the files which would be addressed to them, as well as the rights of citizens to participate and the rights of third parties to seek redress. ” She alerted of this problem in a letter sent to the chairman of the dialogue committee of the National Frequency Agency (ANFR), the gendarme of the waves.
More upstream control of the ANFR
Upstream control of the ANFR is also suspended by orders issued in application of the health emergency law, which authorize an operator to set up a radio station without his agreement. “Today, with teleworking, the antennas that cover homes are in great demand. Adjustments must be made immediately, it is absurd to wait five weeks,” said its director Gilles Brégant.
Installations removed after containment?
He doubts that telephone operators will take advantage of the opportunity to multiply relay antennas in France. “I don't know if they necessarily want to invest sustainably in a network configuration that corresponds to a country in containment,” said the director of the ANFR. Gilles Brégant also points to the installation problem since building a relay antenna requires the intervention of construction companies, many of which also undergo containment measures. However, it is very easy for them to increase the capacity of existing facilities.