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Operators beg Sweden for 3G mercy

Lower targets and lower signal strength, please

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TeliaSonera, Tele2, 3 and Vodafone are calling on Sweden to relax rules for building their 3G networks.

The mobile operators are asking the Swedish government to approve a reduction in pilot signal strength. They say this would have no effect on service but would allow them to use much fewer mobile phone masts. Fewer phone masts would mean less planning permission, less environmental damage and a quicker rollout of the network. It would also give "more time to reduce the concern that there is over electromagnetic fields".

The operators say these changes are "sound from a community perspective and improve the 3G market for end customers and other interested parties".

They also want the government to lower targets for the number of people able to access the service. The operators will need to offer coverage of at least seven million people by 31 December 2004, eight million by the end of 2005 and eight and a half million by the end of 2006. The whole population, 8.8m people, must be covered by 31 December 2007.

To achieve this 3G licence holders will work together to build masts in Norrland, the rural north of the country. Construction should have been completed by 31 December last year.

In November 2002 Orange and Vodafone asked the Swedish government to lessen the burden of setting up a 3G network. The Swedish government refused to budge and the following month Orange withdrew from the Swedish market. ®

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