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Bradford: Wyke 5G phone mast plan refused for listed church
United Kingdom Created: 9 May 2022
A 5G phone mast will not be allowed to be built on a 176-year-old Grade II-listed church in West Yorkshire due to concerns it could harm its appearance.

The spire at St Mary's The Virgin in Wyke, Bradford, already has antennae attached and Cellnex UK had applied for permission to upgrade the base station.

But Bradford Council has rejected the application, saying it would "detract from the church's architectural form".

The building, dating back to the 1840s, was a "landmark", the council said.

Although Cellnex's planning application said 5G coverage in the area was "essential" and that any visual effect caused by a new mast would be outweighed by the benefits of 5G, Bradford Council's conservation officer Jon Ackroyd disagreed, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
'Unquantifiable harm'

Mr Ackroyd said: "St Mary the Virgin dates from 1846-7 and is an early example of a church responding to the Victorian expansion of Bradford and its surrounding settlements.

"The tower is particularly prominent and the building is a local landmark."

Existing antennae were visible, but work had made sure they blended into the spire, Mr Ackroyd added.

Cellnex UK said the design was the "least visually-intrusive option" given the equipment needed for 5G and had submitted a revised application.

"It is accepted there will be very marginally intensification in the amount of equipment [but] it is felt such a minor increase would not detract from the character of the area," Cellnex said.

"Any visual effects [would be] significantly outweighed by the immense benefits of the new 5G connectivity."

However, rejecting the revised application, Bradford Council said any installations would still project too much from the spire.

It added that the application was refused due to "lack of information and unquantifiable harm".
Click here to view the source article.
Source: BBC News, 06 May 2022

Plan for 5G mast in Spalding’s Wygate Park has drawn opposition from South Holland politicians
United Kingdom Created: 9 May 2022
Plans for a 5G phone mast in Spalding have drawn opposition from politicians - who say it would be a ‘major blot’ on the landscape.

CK Hutchison - which operates the Three mobile phone network - has made a third bid to build a mast in Wygate Park.

The firm failed twice to get plans passed for land at the junction with Claudette Avenue last year - and was also knocked back in attempts to put masts elsewhere in the town.

Its latest plan is for a more ‘slimline’ design - but would still see a 15m mast put up.

District councillor Roger Gambba-Jones, ward member for the area, described the mast and its accompanying cabinets as ‘an industrial and inappropriate’ structure and says no effort has been made to camouflage it.

In a submission to the council’s planning department, he wrote: “The application site could hardly be more prominent when seen from the road itself.

“It is highly visible over significant distances from both directions as one approaches Claudette Avenue junction.

“A structure of this nature would be a major blot on an otherwise open and fairly uncluttered landscape.

“The introduction of this alien and industrial structure into this residential environment will detract from the general attractiveness of the area.

“It will also spoil the general enjoyment gained from that location as part of the linear park that helps to connect and maintain the link between the communities of Wygate Park.”

Coun Gambba-Jones criticises the applicant for failing to back up its assertion that there will be no material impact - and asserts that there will be and that this will ‘result in a demonstrable harm’.

South Holland and the Deepings MP Sir John Hayes has also lodged an objection. In a letter, he wrote that the mast should be in an industrial site, adding: “These masts are completely out of character with the surrounding residential area and will be an incongruous structure blighting the landscape, causing loss of amenity to the neighbouring properties and beyond.”

Such masts apparently need to be located close to the people served - and Three insists it has looked at several alternatives in and around Wygate Park.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Spalding Today, Andrew Brookes, 05 May 2022

Cafe owner slams "monstrosity" 5G mast as takings halve
United Kingdom Created: 9 May 2022
Ray Nicholson says people aren't sure if he's open because of the mast.

A takeaway owner says his profits have halved after a 'monstrosity' of a 5G mast was installed outside his business. Former football coach Ray Nicholson opened Nico Patties in Harrow, north west London, in summer 2020 - weeks before the mast was installed.

But the 54-year-old says takings at his eatery, which sells Caribbean patties, doughnuts and sweet treats, halved from £300 to £150 a day after the installation appeared. He says he now pulls 12-hour shifts and pumped in £14,000 of his own money meaning he has 'nothing left' to put in.

He said council bosses never warned him or asked what he thought- and claims he has never seen another phone mast in front of a shop anywhere in the borough. Ray, who has lived nearby since 1974, worries the Caribbean café could end up having to close its doors.

He even thought about shutting the shop on Harrow View but has vowed to keep going as running it has been a ‘great journey’ and he wants to create ‘something special’ for his loyal customers. To tempt in more customers he has bought a trellis and hedge which he plans to wrap around the ugly creation.

He says he has bought a parasol to put between the new hedge and the shop which can fit in an outdoor terrace with seating. He said: “I was selling patties in the traffic before it was there. When we first started we were flying.

“It went up in Summer 2020 just after we opened. I thought ‘I am going to have a lovely shop, everyone is going to see it.’ Now I have this monstrosity outside my shop. People said they were going to try and get it removed but it never has been.

“My rent has gone up- initially when I signed a contract for five years it was for £750 a month and then it increased by £100 even though that monstrosity has been put up in front of the shop. I phoned the landlord saying ‘what are you doing?’ but he said he had nothing to do with it.

“Eventually I got so frustrated I called EE and they gave me £250 for a new sign. It has affected my business and I have had no compensation at all.

“When I started two years ago we were taking around £300 per day and now we are taking around £150 a day. I am worried my business will have to close and I am worried about my health.

“I just don’t understand why the council could do that? When you try and phone the council you are on the line for hours.

“There is all that space on the pavement. They have got all that space and they have just stuck it in front of my shop?

“I am going to put a trellis and a hedge around it and put a new banner up. It has become a little social gathering spot for people after we are closed at 9pm because you can sit on and around it.

“My daughter said to me ‘get out of here, you don’t need to be here, go and get another shop.’ We have got another shop in Bushey but it has not opened yet.

“This is my area and has been for such a long time. I have lived here since 1974. The business has just been phenomenal and most days we are doing alright- but it has been a major, major problem.

“I don’t understand why they have done it, it is the worst planning I have ever seen. The masts are all around the borough but I have never seen one outside a shop.

“We are the only black shop around here. They have put it outside our shop.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: SurreyLive, Gwyn Wright & Matt Jackson, 07 May 2022

Will 5G Kill Me? When Telecom Politics Become a Deadly Sin
United Kingdom Created: 9 May 2022
5G is undeniably the talk of the moment, much more in the business corridors and governmental strategies, than in the telecom community. This does not come as a surprise since 5G with its promising capabilities paves the way to a myriad of new business use cases and digital transformation opportunities.

5G and the trend in wireless network evolution in general, have a dark side to it: HEALTH!! This is probably the least discussed topic in wireless networks. In all honesty, why would someone bring a topic to the limelight if it will affect the adoption of the associated technology and stir unnecessary controversy.

The short episoAde that associated 5G with coronavirus was theatrical, but rather illustrated what effect even a myth could have on the telecom industry. During the most stressful period of the pandemic when thousands of casualties were counted each day, a group of people started burning 5G cell towers linking radiation to the spread of coronavirus. According to the groups involved, 5G radiations would weaken the immunity system making it more prone to the effects of the virus. Other theories have link the 5G network to virus transmission.

Clearly “radiophobia” shouldn’t be taken to that extreme. 5G and the associated radio frequency radiations are far from being the biological weapons which will spread the virus and exterminate humanity. What this short episode teaches us though is that the effects of beyond 5G networks should be taken more seriously, and “objective” medical studies should be conducted in “full transparency” and communicated to the public.
Back to Basics: What Are Telecom Tower Radiations?

The connectivity provided by wireless networks is mainly due to electromagnetic waves emanating from antennas distributed over transmission towers and other cell sites. The frequency at which the energy is radiating from these antennas is known as the radio frequency. Radio frequencies used for communication systems go all the way to 300 GHz, just below the infrared/visible light spectrum. As the frequency of usage is higher, it will become more difficult for the signal to reach the user without increasing the power with which it is transmitted. The reason is that it can be easily blocked by obstacles and attenuated by the environment. As a consequence, more transmission stations are to be used or a much larger transmission power from existing ones.

The capabilities of the 5G and next generation wireless networks come from improvements on different fronts, mainly from a technical nature. One prominent feature however is the increasing use of higher frequencies. To put it in simple terms, accommodating a higher number of mobile users while satisfying their needs in terms of extremely high data rates and low delays requires a higher bandwidth; and this bandwidth is not possible without going to higher frequencies. It is in fact this simple equation that reinvigorated the discussion on the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiations.
Are Telecom Tower Radiations Dangerous?

Radio frequencies in general belong to the class of non-ionizing radiations. This type of radiation does not cause changes at the atom level, that is, the energy is not enough to remove electrons from atoms, thus producing charged ions. On the other hand, ionizing radiations including far ultraviolet light and X-rays have the capabilities of ionizing existing molecules. The common consensus is that non-ionizing radiation has mild effects such as increasing skin temperature which may induce sunburn at most. Some other radiations such as ultraviolet A (UV-A) may cause melanoma. Ionizing radiation is mostly carcinogenic, that is, it may cause several types of cancer after a relatively long exposure. Most health groups and commissions have deemed that radiations from telecom towers as not dangerous mainly because the thermal effects do not cause any harm to the human body (at least a scientifically confirmed harm). However, little attention is given to the non-thermal potential effects of these radiations such as DNA, protein, or cell damage.
So What is the Problem with 5G?

The dilemma regarding harmful effects of non-ionizing radiation is not new. It dates back to the 2G era, the fabled GSM system. However, the network was largely made of dispersed cell towers covering large areas. Subscribers were not even close to transmission entities as antennas were usually mounted on building rooftops. As standards evolved, cell sites have been getting closer to the subscribers to ensure proper capacity and coverage. 5G is the pinnacle of wireless standards with an expected relatively dense deployment of street-level cell sites at close proximity of mobile users. The projected addition of higher frequencies to the 5G palette makes things even worse.

The divergence of opinions in the medical circles regarding 5G radiation have even emerged to the public. The conclusions that non-ionizing radiation is in general not harmful have been contested by many scientists worldwide. These scientists claim that this type of radiation is carcinogenic, although not to the extent of ionizing one. Several cases of glioma, the typical form of brain cancer, have been attributed to non-ionizing radiation. In a report dating back to 2011, the international agency for research on cancer (IARC) has called to classify radio frequencies as potentially carcinogenic (a class denoted as 2B). A “5G Appeal” was even established in Europe in 2017 calling countries to halt the roll-out of 5G networks until a scientific confirmation of its harmless effects. An increasing number of scientists have been joining the appeal since then, calling for the moratorium of 5G.

Even if temporary exposure to non-ionizing radiation is not harmful, our constant presence in the electrosmog would certainly have more dangerous effects that need to be studied closely. The debate does not even end with 5G as future generations are already considering much higher frequencies for their operation.

Another factor is the increased power used for transmission. Cost-saving is one of top goals of operators around the world. To avoid the capital and operational expenditures resulting from the erection of new cell sites, some operators crank up the power on existing sites to extend their coverage range. This has an adverse effect on mobile subscribers who are unaware of this invisible threat.

Several researchers are studying the health effects of 5G deployment. Notably, a paper published in 2020demonstrates the effects of 5G deployment in significantly increasing the power density (power in watts per square meters) for an area in Texas, USA.
Telecom Politics, Outdated Standards, and Conflicts of Interest

To make matters worse, the dark alleys of the telecom industry largely contribute to this ongoing controversy. After all, the telecom sector is among the most profitable around the world. Any obstacle hindering the roll-out of new wireless technologies should be eliminated as soon as possible the limit the financial loss, notably for entities who invested in these technologies.

The main issue concerns institutions that define safe exposure limits to electromagnetic radiations. These include health organizations, in addition to specialized entities such as the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Such commissions and organizations have made use of safety guidelines that date back to the 1990s, ignoring new research results that contradict their conclusions. Among others, they have maintained their stance regarding the thermal effects of non-ionizing radiations and have consequently kept their prescribed exposure limits loose. They have even resisted recognizing the adverse non-thermal effects of radio frequency radiation.

These loose thresholds would normally make most wireless networks which are deployed around the world, compliant with international standards. Surprisingly, the ICNIRP even increased the safe exposure power density from 10 Watts per square meters to 40 Watts per square meters. This gives additional flexibility for telecom operators to design their network at a lower cost. However, higher exposure limits are allowed and more subjects would probably fall victims of the technology evolution.

An article analyzing the performance of heath commissions, outlines several conflicts of interest among scientists responsible for the evaluation of the effects of non-ionizing radiation. For instance, several members of the ICNIRP, were also members of the EU Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) and a dedicated group of the World Health Organization (WHO). The same article mentions the relation between Swiss scientists and governmental groups responsible for assessing the effects of 5G in addition to mobile operators. When political and economic considerations affect health-related assessments, the outcome normally lacks credibility. The guidelines of standardization bodies therefore cannot be trusted to have the clear picture regarding radiation-associated risks.
Summary

Radiations from telecom towers are essential for the operation of wireless communication systems. No technology such as 5G or Wi-Fi can even exist without these distributed cell sites equipped with transmitting antennas. However, from a health perspective, the telco domain looks pretty much unregulated. Non-ionizing radiations usually have limited implications on the user’s health, but open questions remain largely open: What is the safe exposure time to these radiations? What is the safe distance between a person and a transmitting antenna? What are safe transmission power levels? Why haven’t safety guidelines been updated for some time? Why are the opinions of some scientists been disregarded? Can telecom tower radiations clearly cause cancer or other devastating effects?

While there is no clear answer for these questions, there is one significant problem which is controversy and lack of transparency. People have the right to have a definitive answer regarding the effects of wireless technologies on their health, and they have the right to know that before the mass rollout of such technologies.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Inside Telecom, Ahmad El Hajj, 04 May 2022

Legal: Can I refuse to host a 5G mast on my land?
United Kingdom Created: 15 Apr 2022
Q: I am paid to have a mobile phone mast on my land. I’ve been asked to host a 5G mast for a measly extra sum - What are my rights?

A: Two legal regimes apply to phone masts on private land. The first is any existing agreement allowing operators to use land. This is usually a long lease of the site, which will probably be a business tenancy under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. If operators ask for permission to upgrade to 5G, landlords generally can’t refuse permission without reasonable grounds. Rents may be subject to review, and tenants are generally entitled to new leases when their old ones expire.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: The Times, Mark Loveday, 15 Apr 2022

The Death of Millimeter-wave Cellular?
USA Created: 15 Apr 2022
Apple recently announced that is not building millimeter-wave spectrum antennas into the next generation SE iPhone. Interestingly, this is a phone sold by Verizon, which spent a year advertising on TV and showing us speed tests on cellphones that were receiving gigabit speeds.

As a reminder for those who have never encountered the technology, Verizon and AT&T both deployed some millimeter-wave hot spots in downtown areas of major cities at the height of the 5G marketing craze. The frequency was only available on special phones made at the time to receive the faster speeds.

I always assumed that this was a marketing gimmick because it makes no sense as a deployed technology. The speeds can be blazingly fast, but the millimeter-wave signal only carries perhaps 1,000 feet from a hotspot – and that is with zero objects in the path. Millimeter-wave spectrum penetrates nothing, and the technology is so finicky that if you were receiving a signal and turned away from the transmitter, your body would cut off the transmission. The frequency is not well suited for busy urban streets. It can’t reach around corners, barely goes through glass, and is blocked by anything moving into its path.

Pushing the millimeter-wave fast 5G story was a big part of the early 5G strategy for the cellular carriers. Remember all of the talk about the U.S. losing the 5G war to China? I still chuckle when I occasionally hear that old chestnut today. The federal government had serious discussions about buying Nokia or Ericsson so that we wouldn’t fall behind in 5G. The cellular carriers stirred up everybody in D.C., and we had Congress, the White House, and The FCC all issuing dire warnings about falling behind with 5G. I remember being particularly amused when a big federal government 5G summit was held in South Dakota in 2018 – the last place where 5G, a technology to solve urban cellular data issues, is likely to ever have any impact.

It turns out that the cellular companies had some big motivations for pushing the 5G narrative so hard. In 2018, the 4G networks were getting into trouble. We didn’t see the first fully compliant 4G LTE cell site until that year, so most of the country was still working on some early version of what might be best described as 3.5G. Urban networks were getting so congested that calls and broadband connections were regularly being dropped. Cellular broadband traffic growth was doubling in less than every three years – and network engineers were warning management about the likely collapse of urban networks during busy times.

The primary thing the cellular carriers wanted was more spectrum. It looks like stirring up the public and politicians worked, and the FCC released several choice mid-range bands of spectrum in a shorter time frame than might have been expected. The industry was also hoping for federal handouts to somehow help propel them to 5G – but that never happened in any big way that I could ever see.

The funny thing to me is that I think the cellular companies could have gotten the same thing by just telling the truth – they legitimately needed the FCC to release much-needed spectrum. Every cellphone user would have supported the idea. But nobody ever told the real story, because that would have meant admitting that networks were underperforming. My theory is that the carriers didn’t want to take a hit on stock prices – so they instead orchestrated the 5G circus that had America convinced that 5G was going to solve all of our ills. What is funniest about the whole 5G fiasco is that Oulu University in Finland, which leads the world in 5G research, said at the end of 2021 that it’s still likely to be 2027 until we see the first mature 5G cell site. We’re not behind China with 5G – because nobody has 5G!

It’s not a surprise that Apple is dropping the spectrum from its phones. It costs chip space and power for every additional spectrum that is supported by a cellphone. Cell manufacturers care more about long battery life than they do about a technology that never made it out of the downtowns of a few major cities.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: CCG Consulting blog, Doug Dawson, 08 Apr 2022

Over 15% of world population has a headache on any given day, new global estimate finds
Spain Created: 13 Apr 2022
Headaches are among the most common health problems worldwide. According to a comprehensive review of 357 prevalence studies whose findings have been published in The Journal of Headache and Pain, 52% of the world population is affected by a headache disorder every year, and 14% of these disorders are migraines.

The authors, who work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, also estimated that on any given day 15.8% of the world population has had a headache disorder.

The conclusions also confirmed gender-based differences, with all types of headaches more common among women than men. Migraines affected 17% of women compared with 8.6% of men; recurring headaches for 15 or more days out of each month affected 6% of women and 2.9% of men.

However, the researchers also admitted that studies on headache prevalence can vary greatly and that the vast majority of the ones they analyzed, which spanned the years 1961 to 2020, were conducted in high-income countries, which may not reflect the reality of other nations.

Lars Jacob Stovner, the main author of the analysis, said that data collection methods must be improved in order to confidently state whether migraines are on the rise or not. “What is clear is that overall, headache disorders are highly prevalent worldwide and can be a high burden,” he said.

The goal of the analysis was to assess the impact of a condition that is not always measured with great precision, and help determine an adequate public healthcare response. According to the 2019 Global Burden of Disease study, headache disorders are one of the major public health concerns globally. This study shows that migraines are the second cause of disability worldwide and the first for women under 50.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: El Pais, Daniel Mediavilla, 12 Apr 2022

Man claims £10,000 knocked off price of his flat after phone mast put up
United Kingdom Created: 9 Apr 2022
An angry homeowner has claimed a mast was erected outside of his property without notice, depreciating its value.

Brian Swanson, 61, has owned the house in Wolverhampton for 15 years and planned to move into it once he had retired.

He discovered the mast when visiting the property to do maintenance checks, and found it was blocking the view of a nearby park.

‘I was livid to tell you the truth. Nobody wants to see a great big mast with a box at the side,’ he told Bimingham Live.

‘There are plenty of parklands there where it could have been hidden.’

Mr Swanson claims he did not receive a letter from the council notifying him the pole was to be erected, although admits he was told there was a ‘notice put on a lamppost’.

The City of Wolverhampton Council said telecommunication network Three UK was responsible for the mast, adding the council had ‘limited control’ over the installations of such things.

A spokesperson said: ‘We placed site notices at the location on August 3, 2021 inviting comments about the planned mast and also included the proposal on our website. No objections or comments were received in this case.’

Mr Swanson wanted to make the house, which he currently rents out, a permanent home with his partner in the future but that is now hanging in the balance due to a fallout over the pole.

He now faces the option of selling the property for ‘thousands less’ than it is supposedly worth.

‘It has spoilt it now – I’ve considered selling it and think I could lose money. [The mast] has definitely reduced the value,’ he said.

‘I know that I wouldn’t buy a home with a huge mast straight in front of the window. I want to get a valuation but I would say it’s knocked off about £10,000.

‘My partner was going to move into the flat with me but there’s no way she’d live near a mast. She won’t even use a mobile phone, she’s that paranoid.’

He insisted the long-term effects of living close to a mast were unknown, adding it may be possible to ‘get brain damage from the waves’.

There is no strong proof 5G is harmful to health with numerous studies showing this, including from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Public Health England and the UK Health Protection Agency.

Cancer Research UK says there is no good evidence that 5G mobile phones increase cancer risk as ‘they still don’t have enough energy to damage DNA to cause cancer’.

A Three spokesperson said: ‘5G rollout is vital for residents and businesses of Wolverhampton. We want to offer the community a reliable network experience and this site is critical to making that happen.

‘Masts need to be situated where people will be using the service and, in precise locations to ensure the widest breadth of coverage.

‘We carried out extensive searches and surveys to evaluate siting options before applying for planning permission on Patshull Avenue. Wolverhampton City Council granted planning permission in September 2021.’
Click here to view the source article.
Source: METRO, Zaina Alibhai, 08 Apr 2022

French court pulls SpaceX's Starlink license
France Created: 8 Apr 2022
France's Conseil d'Etat court is revoking the license [PDF] authorizing Elon Musk's Starlink outfit to use two frequency bands to provide satellite internet in France.

SpaceX reportedly has only one ground station left in France, in Villenave-d'Ornon, Girond. The other two Gateways – which were authorized between July and December 2020 – came up against local opposition. Villagers voiced concerns that the ground network gateways would affect cattle, despite assurances from the country's own ANFR (National Frequency Agency) that it is perfectly safe and far below the regulatory limit value.

According to the decision (handed down yesterday, and translated from French), the associations PRIARTEM and Agir pour l'environnement had requested an annulment of the spectrum use. The rights groups were granted this, the ruling said, because of a lack of public consultation.

The contested decision of ARCEP, which aims to authorize the company Starlink Internet Services Limited... is likely to have a significant impact on the market for the provision of broadband internet access and to affect the interests of end users. Therefore, by taking this decision without having first consulted the public, ARCEP disregarded the provisions of V of Article L. 32-1 of the Post and Electronic Communications Code.

ARCEP is the "independent agency in charge of regulating telecommunications, postal services and print media distribution" in France.

Starlink had offered speeds of up to 150MBps for satellite internet, with services available in France in beta since May 2021. Current speeds are comparable to 4G, although when it launched, SpaceX said connectivity speeds would improve over time. Users are required to order a small dish with tripod to set up in an open area at home.

Ground stations – aka Gateways – and satellites for Musk's constellation, which is meant to provide connectivity for hard-to-reach rural notspots, can be tracked here.

The SpaceX subsidiary is not the only low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite player. The coverage of each spacecraft is a narrow band around the whole world, meaning it faces global competition. One such rival is Amazon's Project Kuiper, which yesterday said it had secured "up to 83 launches" from Arianespace, Blue Origin, and United Launch Alliance. The retail and cloud giant said the agreements comprised "the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history, providing heavy-lift capacity for Project Kuiper to deploy majority of its LEO constellation of 3,236 satellites."

Over in France, Starlink faces a local rival in the form of Paris-based Eutelsat. France's biggest telecoms operator, Orange, inked a deal [PDF] with Eutelsat in 2020 under which it bought out all available capacity on Eutelsat's Konnect satellite to cover the entire French territory, saying it would enable even those living in the most isolated areas to benefit from very high-speed fixed broadband via satellite from January 2021.

In October 2021 [PDF], Eutelsat invested an additional $165 million in OneWeb and upped its stake in the satellite broadband provider after giving it a cash injection of over half a billion dollars earlier that year. The outfit was bought out of bankruptcy by the government of the United Kingdom and Indian multinational Bharti Global the year before.

The London-based constellation slinger, in contrast to Starlink, is a wholesale-only proposition.

Just two weeks ago, OneWeb turned to SpaceX after its rocket rides to orbit fell victim to sanctions imposed on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. What a tangled web they weave.

We have asked SpaceX for comment. ®
Click here to view the source article.
Source: The Register, Jude Karabus, 06 Apr 2022

Not smart but clever? The return of 'dumbphones'
United Kingdom Created: 7 Apr 2022
"If aliens came to earth they'd think that mobile phones are the superior species controlling human beings," he says. "And it's not going to stop, it's only going to get worse. Consumers are realising that something is wrong, and we want to offer an alternative."

------

Seventeen-year-old Robin West is an anomaly among her peers - she doesn't have a smartphone.

Instead of scrolling through apps like TikTok and Instagram all day, she uses a so-called "dumbphone".

These are basic handsets, or feature phones, with very limited functionality compared to say an iPhone. You can typically only make and receive calls and SMS text messages. And, if you are lucky - listen to radio and take very basic photos, but definitely not connect to the internet or apps.

These devices are similar to some of the first handsets that people bought back in the late 1990s.

Ms West's decision to ditch her former smartphone two years ago was a spur of the moment thing. While looking for a replacement handset in a second-hand shop she was lured by the low price of a "brick phone".

Her current handset, from French firm MobiWire, cost her just £8. And because it has no smartphone functionality she doesn't have an expensive monthly data bill to worry about.

"I didn't notice until I bought a brick phone how much a smartphone was taking over my life," she says. "I had a lot of social media apps on it, and I didn't get as much work done as I was always on my phone."

The Londoner adds that she doesn't think she'll ever buy another smartphone. "I'm happy with my brick - I don't think it limits me. I'm definitely more proactive."

Dumbphones are continuing to enjoy a revival. Google searches for them jumped by 89% between 2018 and 2021, according to a report by software firm SEMrush.

And while sales figures are hard to come by, one report said that global purchases of dumbphones were due to hit one billion units last year, up from 400 million in 2019. This compares to worldwide sales of 1.4 billion smart phones last year, following a 12.5% decline in 2020.

Meanwhile, a 2021 study by accountancy group Deloitte said that one in 10 mobile phone users in the UK had a dumbphone.

"It appears fashion, nostalgia, and them appearing in TikTok videos, have a part to play in the dumbphone revival," says Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at price comparison site Uswitch.com. "Many of us had a dumbphone as our first mobile phone, so it's natural that we feel a sense of nostalgia towards these classic handsets."

Mr Doku says it was the 2017 relaunch of Nokia's 3310 handset - first released in 2000, and one of the biggest-selling mobiles of all time - that really sparked the revival. "Nokia pushed the 3310 as an affordable alternative in a world full of high-spec mobiles."

He adds that while it's true that dumbphones can't compete with the latest premium Apple and Samsung models when it comes to performance or functionality, "they can outshine them in equally important areas such as battery life and durability".

Five years ago, Przemek Olejniczak, a psychologist, swapped his smartphone for a Nokia 3310, initially because of the longer-lasting battery. However, he soon realised that there were other benefits.

"Before I would always be stuck to the phone, checking anything and everything, browsing Facebook or the news, or other facts I didn't need to know," he says.

"Now I have more time for my family and me. A huge benefit is that I'm not addicted to liking, sharing, commenting, or describing my life to other people. Now I have more privacy."

However, Mr Olejniczak, who lives in the Polish city of Lodz, admits that initially the switch was challenging. "Before I'd be checking everything, such as buses and restaurants, on my smartphone [when travelling]. Now that is impossible, so I have learned to do all those things beforehand at home. I got used to it."

One maker of dumbphones is New York company Light Phone. Slightly more clever that the norm for such products, its handsets do allow users to listen to music and podcasts, and link by Bluetooth to headphones. Yet the firm pledges that its phones "will never have social media, clickbait news, email, an internet browser, or any other anxiety-inducing infinite feed".

The company says it recorded its strongest year for financial performance in 2021, with sales up 150% compared with 2020. This is despite its handsets being expensive for dumbphones - prices start at $99 (£75).

Light Phone co-founder, Kaiwei Tang, says the device was initially created to use as a secondary phone for people wanting to take a break from their smartphone for a weekend for example, but now half the firm's customers use it as their primary device.

"If aliens came to earth they'd think that mobile phones are the superior species controlling human beings," he says. "And it's not going to stop, it's only going to get worse. Consumers are realising that something is wrong, and we want to offer an alternative."

Mr Tang adds that, surprisingly, the firm's main customers are aged between 25 and 35. He says he was expecting buyers to be much older.

Tech expert, Prof Sandra Wachter, a senior research fellow in artificial intelligence at Oxford University, says it is understandable that some of us are looking for simpler mobile phones.

"One can reasonably say that nowadays a smart phone's ability to connect calls and send short messages is almost a side feature," she explains. "Your smart phone is your entertainment centre, your news generator, your navigation system, your diary, your dictionary, and your wallet."

She adds that smartphones always "want to grab your attention" with notifications, updates, and breaking news constantly disrupting your day. "This can keep you on edge, might even be agitating. It can be overwhelming."

Prof Wachter adds: "It makes sense that some of us are now looking for simpler technologies and think that dumbphones might offer a return to simpler times. It might leave more time to fully concentrate on a single task and engage with it more purposefully. It might even calm people down. Studies have shown that too much choice can create unhappiness and agitation."

Yet back in London, Robin West says that many people are bewildered by her choice of mobile. "Everyone thinks it's just a temporary thing. They're like: 'So when are you getting a smartphone? Are you getting one this week?'."
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Source: BBC News, Suzanne Bearne, 21 Mar 2022

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