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Tehran Mayor Raise the Call for Functioning Telecom Systems During Crises

Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi says telecom networks should be more effective through, among other things, the installation of new cell phone towers to prevent disruption of services, especially at times of crisis
Installation of new cell phone towers in the capital has been proposed.Installation of new cell phone towers in the capital has been proposed.
Phone services were disrupted in some areas after the 5.2 magnitude earthquake that struck near Tehran on Dec. 20, 2017. The Telecoms Ministry attributed the disruption to an increase in phone calls after the tremor

A working group needs to be established by representatives from Tehran Municipality and the Telecom Ministry to explore ways to help improve communications during emergencies, say two senior officials.

In a meeting with Communications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi on Monday, Tehran Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi said the telecom network should become more efficient to prevent service outages, especially at times of natural disasters (assuming telecom infrastructure will not be crippled) when there is critical need for sharing information and sending messages, the municipality website reported.

Najafi was referring to the fact that phone services were disrupted in some areas following the 5.2 magnitude earthquake that struck near Tehran on Dec. 20, 2017. The ministry attributed the disruption to the unprecedented increase in phone calls after the capital shook.

“The mayor is responsible for managing the coordination council for crisis management in the city, which comprises [representatives of] 30 organizations,” he said adding that a three-month deadline has been set for all the working groups to announce their plans.

 Cell Phone Towers  

Najafi proposed the establishment of a joint working group with the ministry in addition to the existing groups to provide better services to the people, particularly through installation of new cell phone towers in the capital that is home to 12 million people.

“Collaboration between the two organizations during crises should be followed up within the framework of a joint working group,” he said.

The telecom minister also called for closer consultations, adding that setting up a working group including senior representatives from his ministry and the municipality will facilitate coordination.

Sub-groups can also be formed to address issues related to cell phone towers, the fiber optic network, as well as smart city and e-government projects, Jahromi added.

 Obstacles

Additional towers are required to improve the telecommunications system but one obstacle is the municipality’s refusal to issue permits for setting up new towers for emergency situations, the minister was quoted as saying.

Another problem relates to the fact that some people believe radiation from cell phone towers cause health problems such as cancer, Jahromi noted.

“When out of every 10 applications for towers three are rejected, it is natural that seven towers would not be sufficient to meet communications needs in an area.”

According to the American Cancer Society, there is “very little evidence” to support the suggestion that living, working, or going to school near a cell phone tower might increase the risk of cancer or other health problems.

The recent quake in Tehran did not damage telecom infrastructure but communications were disrupted in west Tehran, Jahromi said, adding that the resolution of problems related to cell phone towers is a prerequisite for talks on other issues.

Tehran Municipality took some early measures soon after the quake, such as creating a database of safe urban areas on its website to help people find a safe area near their place of residence or work.

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