February 16, 2013 / 1:10 PM / 5 years ago

Regulator tells Brussels to ease rules on mobile masts

BRUSSELS, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Rules regarding the amount of radiation that can be emitted from mobile telephone masts are too strict in Brussels and should be eased to allow for a high-speed mobile internet networks to be rolled out, the Belgian telecoms regulator said.

Mobile telephone operators such as Mobistar and Belgacom have said the current limits prevent them from installing fourth-generation (4G) mobile networks, which offer up to 10 times faster download speeds, in the Belgian capital.

Brussels arguably has the strictest rules in the world, telecoms regulator BIPT said, limiting the maximum output of mobile telephone masts to 3 volts per metre, but additional requirements meant this limit was in practice 1.5 volts.

"Current rules in Brussels and the policy regarding radiation standards are a serious hindrance to the technological possibilities for the deployment new mobile technologies and have unwanted consequences for the economic development and job creation in the Brussels region," the regulator said in a report posted on its website.

In November, Belgium's largest mobile operator Belgacom launched 4G services in eight Belgian cities but not in Brussels, while competitor Mobistar started trials of the new technology in the northern city of Antwerp.

Brussels, a city with over one million inhabitants and home to international institutions such as the European Union and NATO, would be a major market for the new technology, according to operators.

Belgium's three regions can set their own rules regarding mobile radiation standards, with current requirements in Flanders and Wallonia being less strict, the regulator said.

The Brussels environment ministry was not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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