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1,500 cellphone base stations to be removed

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The target of dismantling 1,500 mobile phone base stations (MPBS) this year will be easily achieved by the end of the year, National Communications Commission (NCC) Chairman Su Yeong-chin said yesterday.

Reporting at the Legislative Yuan, Su said the NCC's promise to push the private MPBS operators to dismantle 1,500 of the controversy-ridden base stations in 2007 will be delivered without problems.

Su said that as of the end of October, 1,472 MPBSs had been dismantled and removed, an achievement that represents 98.13 percent of the execution target. He added that the dismantling of the remaining 28 MPBS can easily be completed in the remaining two months of the year.

Su made the remarks in response to questions from opposition Kuomintang Legislator Lai Shyh-bao, who wanted the NCC to ensure that all base stations in the country be established atop buildings of publicly run organizations instead of private buildings, buildings near schools or in residential areas.

The NCC head said his commission has been trying to move developments in this direction.

According to an NCC survey, there were 26,000 base stations for 2G mobile phones, 6,500 base stations for 3G mobile phones and 16,000 base stations for personal handy-phone systems (PHS), for a total of about 48,000 base stations dotted around the country a year ago.

The NCC had been urged by lawmakers to "strongly intervene" in efforts to cut the number of base stations by at least half, since the coverage rate of existing MPBSs is more than five times the amount that Taiwan actually needs.

Residential neighborhoods and schools must not be exposed to the risk of radiation emitted by the MPBSs that could cause cancer, miscarriages and diseases of the nervous system, and could even drive people to suicide, the legislators said, arguing that existing base stations must be moved out of such areas, as studies show that radiation levels at such facilities in Taipei in the north and in Tainan in the south surpass reasonable levels.

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