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Ofcom gives 3G upgrade thumbs-up

But it'll kill all the bees and then we'll all die!

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Ofcom has decided to let 3G networks up their broadcast power, but only by half of what it had proposed: for the sake of 3 rather than the bees.

The death of all bees was predicted by one of the more colourful respondents to Ofcom's consultation on the matter; others were concerned about signal leakage and more general health. But it was 3's fear of being swamped that convinced Ofcom to cap the signal strength at 65dBm, rather than the 68dBm cap the regulator had proposed.

Not that the industry ever asked for a 6dB increase. Vodafone's original pitch, quickly backed by the other operators, only asked that the current cap of 62dBm be upped by 3dB.

Ofcom itself proposed twice that figure to prevent operators asking for another increase in a year or two - not an insignificant change when one remembers that dB is a logarithmic scale.

3 took exception to the doubling, so Ofcom has decided that 65dBm is probably enough to be going on with.

Wireless camera users in the neighbouring frequencies complained that any increase would leak into their patch - in response to which Ofcom points out that the limits on such leakage remain the same, operators will only be able to up the power if they can control the signal too.

Other respondents cited unspecified health concerns, though even at the highest proposed power the public's exposure is well within that considered safe by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection.

Leaving us with the risk to the bees: which, we were told by one Andrew Goldsworthy (BSc PhD), would lead to famine and mass starvation along with outbreaks of scurvy causing us to "literally begin to fall apart".

Outside Ofcom's immediate remit one might imagine... sure enough we're told by the regulator that it has "forwarded the relevant responses to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs". ®

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