2003-10-17 / Front Page

Cell Antenna Engineers Eye Broad Channel

By Brian Magoolaghan
Cell Antenna Engineers Eye Broad Channel By Brian Magoolaghan

The battle against cell antennas could be coming to a neighborhood near you, even though the federal government suggests there’s little reason to fear them.

Broad Channel resident Francine Hamill learned that cellular service provider T-Mobile is looking to erect a rooftop antenna in the community, and plans to bring her objections to the town’s civic association meeting, next week, she said.

T-Mobile Government Affairs Director Laura Altschul confirmed that the company is interested in establishing a site somewhere in Broad Channel, and said the company had a "search ring" in the area. She also said the company has seven antenna sites already operating in Rockaway.

Hamill has been circulating "Neighborhood Alert" fliers, urging residents to come to the October 23 meeting of the Broad Channel Civic Association. "…it is extremely important to get involved in this issue…," Hamill’s fliers say. But the radio frequency (RF) exposure in the area surrounding an antenna is well below the adopted limitations, according to the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the two governmental agencies that monitor cell antennas.

"In order to be exposed to levels at or near the FCC limits for cellular or PCS (personal cellular service) frequencies, an individual would have to remain in the main transmitted radio signal (at height of antenna) and within a few feet from the antenna," according to the radio frequency safety section of the FCC’s website, http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/

T-Mobile is also facing resident opposition in Astoria, where it has more than 15 antennas. The company recently released a safety study, which monitored the area surrounding a six-foot-high rooftop antenna. Testers from Pinnacle Telecom Group, found that on the rooftop, inside the building’s apartments, and at the floor level, the RF was an average of 4 percent of the maximum permitted exposure limit.

As cell phones continue to proliferate, the network that supports them must also grow. Landlords are attracted because it takes a typically unused part of their property, and converts it into a moneymaker. Rooftop leases reportedly can bring the property owner nearly $20,000 annually. Hamill said the landlord of 814 Cross Bay Boulevard, Dan Tubridy, would be choosing money and a good cell connection over the health of people, if he enters an agreement with T-Mobile.

Tubridy confirmed that he was approached by T-Mobile, but said their talks have gone cold. He said cell antennas are becoming more and more common as more adults and teens sign up for cell service, and added that Hamill has a "tenant friendly" agreement that would allow her to break her lease (and relocate) with 90 days notice.

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