Thursday, March 31, 2011

Article from the New York Times

Cellphone Radiation May Alter Your Brain. Let’s Talk.


Published: March 30, 2011

In a culture where people cradle their cellphones next to their heads with the same constancy and affection that toddlers hold their security blankets, it was unsettling last month when a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that doing so could alter brain activity.

The report said it was unclear whether the changes in the brain — an increase in glucose metabolism after using the phone for less than an hour — had any negative health or behavioral effects. But it has many people wondering what they can do to protect themselves short of (gasp) using a landline.

“Cellphones are fantastic and have done much to increase productivity,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, the lead investigator of the study and director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. “I’d never tell people to stop using them entirely.”

Yet, in light of her findings, she advises users to keep cellphones at a distance by putting them on speaker mode or using a wired headset whenever possible. The next best option is a wireless Bluetooth headset or earpiece, which emit radiation at far lower levels. If a headset isn’t feasible, holding your phone just slightly away from your ear can make a big difference; the intensity of radiation diminishes sharply with distance. “Every millimeter counts,” said Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, an online newsletter covering health and safety issues related to exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

So crushing your cellphone into your ear to hear better in a crowded bar is probably a bad idea. Go outside if you have to take or make a call. And you might not want to put your cellphone in your breast or pants pocket either, because that also puts it right up against your body. Carry it in a purse or briefcase or get a nonmetallic belt clip that orients it away from your body.

Some studies have suggested a link between cellphone use and cancer, lower bone density and infertility in men. But other studies show no effect at all. Given the mixed messages and continuing research, Robert Kenny, a Federal Communications Commission spokesman, said in an e-mail, “As always, we will continue to study this issue and coordinate with our federal partners.”

The phone used in Dr. Volkow’s study was a Samsung Knack, model SCH-U310, a flip phone that was in wide use when she began planning her experiments two and half years ago. But today’s ubiquitous smartphones emit even more radiation as they transmit more, and more complex, data.

You can get an idea of the relative amounts of radiation various cellphone models emit by looking at their SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate. This number indicates how much radiation is absorbed by the body when using the handset at maximum power. A cellphone cannot be sold in the United States unless an F.C.C.-approved laboratory says its SAR is below 1.6 watts per kilogram. In Europe, the maximum is 2 watts per kilogram.

The SAR number is not displayed when you compare cellphones at your local wireless store, and trying to find it in the fine print of your user manual is an exercise in frustration. The F.C.C. maintains that SAR values “do not provide sufficient information” to reliably compare cellphone radiation emissions because certain phones might rarely operate at maximum power. Still, the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization, has a comprehensive list of the SAR values for most cellphones available from major carriers on its Web site. (For instance, the Apple iPhone 4 is listed at 1.17 watts per kilogram, the Motorola Droid at 1.5 and the LG Quantum at 0.35.)

But more important than looking for a low-SAR phone is how you use it. Many cellphones emit the most radiation when they initially establish contact with the cell tower, making their “digital handshake.” To reduce exposure it’s best to wait until after your call has been connected to put your cellphone next to your ear.

During the ensuing conversation, it’s advisable to tilt the phone away from your ear when you are talking and only bring it in close to your ear when you are listening. That bit of teeter-totter works because the emission of radiation is “significantly less when a cellphone is receiving signals than when it is transmitting,” said Lin Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Rice University in Houston.

Moreover, your cellphone emits less when you are stationary because when you are moving rapidly — say, in a car or train — it must repeatedly issue little bursts of radiation to make digital handshakes with different towers as it moves in and out of range. (More cause to hang up when you buckle up.)

Want another reason to complain about your carrier’s poor coverage? Any situation where your cellphone has a weak signal indicates it has to work harder and thus will emit more radiation. “Fewer bars means more radiation,” said Om Gandhi, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Inside buildings and elevators, in rural areas, the Grand Canyon — these are not good places to make a call if you’re trying to reduce your exposure to radiation.

Of course, parents using their iPhones to pacify cranky kids might want to reconsider rattles. Children’s developing brains and tissues are thought to be most vulnerable to cellphone radiation. Health authorities in Britain, France, Germany and Russia have all issued warnings against allowing small children to use cellphones for extended periods, if at all.

There are cellphone attachments that purport to shield users from radiation, and most are “hoaxes,” said Mr. Gandhi. Beware of pendants that sellers claim snatch radiation from the air. Pong Research offers a cellphone case for iPhones and BlackBerrys that it says has been shown by an F.C.C.-approved testing lab to redirect radiation from the phone’s antenna away from the head.

While the manufacturer says it reduces radiation more than 60 percent, some electrical engineering experts question whether the case may have the opposite effect at orientations where your head is in the way of the cell tower because your phone may have to increase its transmission strength somewhat to compensate for the redirected signal. The company disputes this. Nevertheless, the net effect of using the device throughout the course of the day may be a reduction in total exposure.

Texting, instead of talking, might be safer. “The whole trend toward texting instead of talking on cellphones is probably a good thing,” said Mr. Slesin at Microwave News.

That is, if you don’t rest your cellphone against your body while typing out your message.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

AT&T Buys T-Mobile

By the way, on AT&T's coverage map for our area, the coverage is rated as "Best," so now how could there be any need for this tower??

- - -

NEW YORK (AFP) – AT&T said Sunday it had agreed to buy T-Mobile USA from Germany's Deutsche Telekom in a $39-billion blockbuster deal enabling it to overtake Verizon as the biggest US wireless provider.

The cash-and-stock deal, which needs regulatory approval, will give AT&T 34 million new customers and lift its annual wireless revenues to around $80 billion from $58.5 billion in 2010.

It will add to AT&T earnings in the third year after the deal closes, the company said, and help it compete with market leader Verizon.

"This transaction represents a major commitment to strengthen and expand critical infrastructure for our nation's future," said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive.

"It will improve network quality, and it will bring advanced... capabilities to more than 294 million people.

"Mobile broadband networks drive economic opportunity everywhere, and they enable the expanding high-tech ecosystem that includes device makers, cloud and content providers, app developers, customers, and more."

According to data from comScore, AT&T held a 26.6% market share of US mobile subscribers in December 2010, while T-Mobile accounted for 12.2% of the market. Verizon, meanwhile, accounted for 31.3%.

The deal will give AT&T a big boost in its rivalry with Verizon, which recently started selling the Apple iPhone with an end to the AT&T monopoly.

Analysts said the deal also helps AT&T in the so-called 4G sector offering more advanced wireless services.

"AT&T has been under attack for not being able to match the network capacity of larger rival Verizon," said MG Siegler of the technology blog TechCrunch.

"And when they won the majority of the bids for the open spectrum in 2008, Verizon also had a clear path to the future. Now AT&T is taking another path: buying T-Mobile."

Deutsche Telekom's flamboyant former boss Ron Sommer bought Voicestream more than a decade ago at the height of the dotcom boom, re-branding it T-Mobile, but leaving the German firm struggling under a mountain of debt.

For years it was Deutsche Telekom's main growth-driver but in recent years a string of poor results gave rise to speculation that it wanted to put an end to its US adventure.

"This is a very very valuable deal for Deutsche Telekom. This is a good day," chief executive Rene Obermann said. "The proceeds will give us the financial firepower to finance our expansion plans in Europe."

Deutsche Telekom will get $25 billion in cash and $14 billion worth of shares, making the German firm AT&T's biggest minority shareholder with an eight-percent stake and a seat on the board, based on the current share price.

AT&T has the right to increase the portion of the purchase price paid in cash by up to $4.2 billion with a corresponding reduction in the stock component, Deutsche Telekom said.

The cash portion of the purchase price will be financed with new debt and cash on AT&T's balance sheet. AT&T has an 18-month commitment of $20 billion underwritten by JP Morgan.

Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin said that the deal will mean that high-speed mobile broadband will improve in quality and coverage, including, in the long run, in rural communities.

"The bad news: the cost of that service won't come down nearly as fast as customers would like, since AT&T and Verizon Wireless combined would own nearly three out of every four wireless subscriptions in the US," he said.

"While clearly troublesome for Sprint and other smaller mobile competitors, it's also bad news for cable operators, whose incipient mobility products will suffer in comparison to what AT&T and Verizon can offer."

Info from Councilwoman Nancyanne Fama's Neighborhood Update e-mail

Unfortunately, since my last email it seems that the cell tower issue on Hance Avenue is not a dead issue. Although the Turnpike Authority advised the Administration that the application was being withdrawn, T-Mobile has yet to formally do so. We will continue to monitor this very disturbing turn of events and will look to rally as many people as possible should T-Mobile continue its application before the Zoning Board. The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for May 5, 2011 at Boro Hall.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

March 17th Meeting Cancelled

T-Mobile has cancelled the March 17th meeting. (Reason?? Who knows at this point)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3/2/11 article from The Hub

Neighbors credit mayor for cell tower save
New site negotiated for cell tower along parkway

TINTON FALLS — The anxieties that surfaced at the borough’s Zoning Board meetings in recent months may soon subside since Mayor Michael Skudera has brokered a deal to move a controversial proposed cell tower.

Skudera announced last month that he reached a verbal agreement with the N.J. Turnpike Authority to change the site of the proposed T Mobile tower from the grounds of the Church of Christ at 312 Hance Ave. to a site along the Garden State Parkway in Tinton Falls.

“Basically, we’ve been working with the Turnpike Authority since last year talking about this,” Skudera said in an interview last week. “It is something that the Turnpike Authority is happy with, [and] my understanding is T-Mobile is happy with.”

Skudera said the spot that will be allocated for the tower already contains a temporary cell tower.

“It is going to relocate the tower from the church on Hance [avenue] over to an area on the parkway where there is a temporary tower that has been there for about 10 years,” he said. “They are going to make that the permanent location.”

T-Mobile first appeared in front of the borough’s Zoning Board last July at a meeting that was attended by close to 100 residents, most of whom opposed the original location.

The main concern that has been raised in recent months about putting the cell tower in a residential neighborhood is that a proper safety study has not been done about the effects of cell tower radiation.

Soon after the first hearing on the cell tower application, resident Nancy DeSimone formed a group called RACE (Residents Against Cell tower Exploitation) to oppose the proposed tower from being located in her neighborhood.

DeSimone said in an interview last week that she is relieved that the struggle might soon be coming to an end.

“We are relieved and grateful to Mayor Skudera for stepping in,” she said.

DeSimone said that her group has mentioned in the past that the parkway would be a more appropriate place for the tower.

“That was what our fight was, that this cell phone tower did not belong in a residential neighborhood and still could be moved onto the parkway to cover the area,” she said.

“He [Skudera] stepped in and reached out to the commissioner of the Turnpike Authority to say we have a temporary tower in Tinton Falls right out on the parkway, why not raise it and make it permanent,” she added.

While Skudera reached a tentative verbal agreement with all parties, he said he would still meet with the stakeholders to try to iron out a formal agreement.

Michael Laffey, an attorney hired by RACE, said that he is optimistic a resolution will be coming in the near future.

“I do not doubt what the mayor is telling me, but I don’t have confirmation yet that they have dropped the application,” he said in an interview.

“My clients are very happy that the mayor is putting the matter to rest,” he added. “This was a surprise to us; we didn’t know that the mayor was working on it.”

DeSimone was also optimistic that the end of the fight against the tower is near.

“Our attorney did say we should sit tight, we are almost there,” she said. “We are not 100 percent there, we are 90 percent there.

“We just need to hear that T-Mobile has formally withdrawn their application,” she added. “We are anxiously awaiting that good news.”

As of last week, the T-Mobile application had not been withdrawn, according to the Zoning Board Office. Skudera said that T-Mobile wants to ensure that there will be no opposition to the new proposal.

“They want to know if they are going to withdraw from the application that they have with the Zoning Board, that this new location will be all right,” Skudera said. “T-Mobile didn’t want to move until we had an agreement that we are not going to dispute the parkway area.

“What T-Mobile didn’t want was a public fight on the parkway land,” he added. “They didn’twant to go through the same thing again; that was the issue with them.”

Skudera said the Borough Council and administration have endorsed the move.

He also said that there are not a lot of other places in the borough that would work for both T-Mobile and the residents.

“It is something that gets the cell tower away from a residential zone and puts it in a better place — along the parkway — that is better suited for that,” Skudera said.

“This was an area that was best suited for a tower/ The whole area where it is [proposed] now is residential; this was the closest suitable spot on the parkway, and it fits in very nicely.”

Skudera said the parkway spot probably isn’t ideal for T-Mobile, because the carrier will lose some coverage, but he estimated that the site would still allow for about 90 percent coverage.

DeSimone said she is thankful to those who helped her oppose the cell tower.

“We are extremely grateful to Mayor Skudera, the town council, especially [Councilwoman] Nancy Fama, who was a great support to this cause,” she said. “We had some nice contributions toward RACE, and we feel that the mayor saved our house for us,” she added.

Murray Hill-based Bell Labs develops 2-inch cube that could replace unsightly cell towers

Tod Sizer of Little Silver, head of wireless research at Bell Labs, holds a life-sized wooden mock-up of the light radio cube he designed in front of a cell tower near his home in Little Silver. The cube is described as the future of cellular technology and has the potential to replace the giant cell phone towers currently in use

The lightRadio cube is a small antenna and radio that has shrunk the regular workings of a conventional cell phone base station and antenna and could, as soon as mid-2012, replace those unsightly cell phone towers constructed throughout the state.