With public apprehensions about possible radiation hazards from Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) thwarting its plans to acquire new cell sites for 2G and 3G networks, BSNL Chennai Telephones is giving shape to an awareness campaign to allay residents' fears on this front.

On Wednesday, Chennai Telephones officials had a meeting to discuss the fears among a section of residents in leasing their property for Ground Based Towers or rooftop antennae.

“The resistance being faced from residents pertains to a few new areas we have identified for cell sites than existing ones,” an official who attended the meeting told The Hindu.

A proposal for a new site is often run through parameters such as areas that are “holes” in existing coverage, importance of a location and density of mobile users before a final call is taken.

Sources added that acquiring new sites are vital for the expansion of the 2G mobile network and the ongoing roll out of Node B towers for the 3G network in Chennai. The expansion plans would roughly involve doubling the 2G towers from the 1,000 BTSs and adding over 100 Node B equipment to the 440 3G towers that are currently up and running.

The ground-based towers require a minimum of 1,200 sq ft space for installation while roof-top pole-and-antenna structures weighing about 75 kg have to be at an optimum height of 23-24 m from ground.

The circuit for Chennai's 3G network, the newest offering on the BSNL showcase, is being built along a dedicated signal pathway with separate media gateways positioned at important exchanges such as Haddows Road, Mambalam, Harbour, Anna Road and Flower Bazaar.

An estimated 25 per cent of new Node B stations are to be stand-alone transmitters while the majority are being co-located with existing BTS infrastructure. Several new BTS nodes are also in the pipeline for improving in-building coverage, the demand for which is constantly increasing as customer expectations rise, an official said.

As an outcome of the Wednesday meeting, technical teams are likely to be out on field visits to reassure residents on “misplaced apprehensions” on the safety hazards from mobile towers. Their argument would be two-pronged — that the radiation from a tower is in such trace amounts as to cause any harm and that no study in the world has yet scientifically proved that electromagnetic radiation caused health hazards.