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EMF Studies

31 January 2018

Switzerland: The Transport and Telecommunications Committee Adopts a Motion Instructing the Federal Council to Prepare a Revision of the Ordinance on Protection Against Non-Ionizing Radiation (ORNI)

The 7 to 6 vote in favor of this motion was from the Commission members of the Council of States which met on 29 January. On 12 February, the Commission members of the National Council will vote on the same issue.

Press Release
Mobile telephony : Reconciling the needs of the economic and individual environments and adequate protection of health
Transport and Telecommunications Committee, Swiss Parliament, 30 January 2018
(Unofficial translation by the Editor of "Towards Better Health")

The growth of digitization is constantly increasing the amount of mobile data consumed by businesses and individuals. That is why it is imperative that Switzerland adapt its facilities to the 5G standard. In addition, in order to continue to ensure a high standard of health protection, the provisions on radiation protection must be adapted to European requirements.

The Committee decided, by 7 votes to 6, to adopt a motion (18.3006) [see hereunder] instructing the Federal Council to prepare as soon as possible a revision of the Ordinance on Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation (ORNI) in order to avoid the collapse of mobile networks and ensure the digital future of the country. The Committee stresses that if Switzerland does not want to be left behind its neighbors, the installation of 5G facilities is essential. The Committee considers that, in view of the high utilization rate of the mobile telephone infrastructure, the rapid increase in the amount of data exchanged and the difficulties hampering the construction of new installations, the ORNI's requirements must be adapted. International radiation protection provisions must, however, continue to be respected in order to maintain a high standard of health protection. A minority of the committee proposes to reject the motion. It notes, on the one hand, that an adaptation of the ordinance is primarily the responsibility of the Federal Council and, on the other, that the effects of non-ionizing radiation on health have not been established with certainty and that, therefore, any relaxation of the provisions in this area must be approached with the utmost caution.



The Committee proposes, by 6 votes to 0 and 3 abstentions, to adopt motion 16.3336 "Increase the minimum speed of connection to the Internet as part of the universal service to 10 megabits per second", tabled by National Councilor Martin Candinas. The Committee wants the outlying regions to be able to benefit from a higher minimum connection speed in the future and wants to avoid an even bigger digital divide between these regions and the centers. Current regulations, which set a minimum speed of 3 megabits per second, no longer seem appropriate from the point of view of technical possibilities and user demand.

Original text in French:
https://www.parlament.ch/press-releases/Pages/mm-kvf-s-2018-01-30.aspx


MOTION 183006
Avoiding the collapse of mobile networks and securing the country's digital future

Motion by: TRANSPORT AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMMITTEE
29 January 2018

The Federal Council is urged to prepare as soon as possible a revision of the Ordinance on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ORNI) in order to avoid the collapse of the mobile networks and to ensure the digital future of the country.

Due to the explosion in recent years, of the rate of use of the mobile phone infrastructure and the difficulties hindering the establishment of new facilities, it is essential that the Federal Council act in a determined manner. The prescriptions of the ORNI, which are too strict, must be relaxed so that Switzerland remains competitive when the next generation of mobile telephony is implemented and we can meet the major challenges that digitization will pose to the economy and to society. International provisions on radiation protection must, however, be respected.
A minority (Häberli-Koller, Baumann, Count, Rechsteiner Paul, Savary) proposes the rejection of the motion.

DEVELOPMENT
On December 8, 2016, the Council of States decided, by a very narrow majority, to reject motion 16.3007 "Ensuring the modernization of mobile telephone networks as quickly as possible". However, it was not known for a long time how much the existing mobile telephony infrastructure is close to collapse. According to figures provided by the leading Swiss mobile operator, about 50 percent of the country's facilities already generate emissions that exceed 90 percent of the limit for their site. Three-quarters of the installations already reach 70 percent of the maximum value. In some cantons and cities, the situation is even worse. Since the volume of data exchanged doubles every year and the number of devices connected to the mobile Internet is also increasing significantly (this number will rise to around 70 million in Switzerland by 2020), the urgency to take regulatory action is no longer in doubt. The installation of facilities meeting the 5G standard will be essential to accompany the rampant digitization of the economy and society. This operation, however, will require the construction of many new mobile phone antennas in Switzerland. In addition, it is essential for the Federal Council address the issue of the country's digital future, otherwise Switzerland may be lagging behind the European Union (EU). The latter has already adopted a 5G action plan providing for the introduction of this standard in all EU countries by 2020.

Original text in French:

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