Base Stations Sing the Blues

The cellular base-station market has had a week to forget, following the arrival of new scare stories over the safety of 3G infrastructure and the publication of a downbeat report predicting a major fall in future revenue for the sector.

A Dutch study -- conducted by research organization TNO on behalf of the government -- claims to prove that signals transmitted by 3G base stations can cause nausea, headaches, and tingling sensations [ed. note: particularly if the signals are reruns of old Who's the Boss? episodes]. In contrast, exposure to radiation from existing 2G masts showed no significant effects.

Seventy-two people took part in the study, the first examination into the health impacts of 3G base stations. Previous research on the effects of second-generation mobile phones had been inconclusive (see Finns Find Cause for Concern).

“These findings were very unexpected,” Martin Lortzer, spokesman for TNO, told BBC News Online. “It means there are a whole lot of other questions coming up.”

The results of the survey add further gloom to a market expected to suffer a decline in the total number of base stations sold over the next five years (see Lack of Demand Hinders Growth). According to the market watchers at In-Stat/MDR, shipments will fall from about 230,000 in 2003 to 163,000 in 2007 (a CAGR of -7 percent). Worse still for the likes of LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and friends, revenue from sales is likely to decline at an even greater rate -- a CAGR of -12.8 percent.

Oh, happy days.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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