Wireless Technology Research
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Wireless Technology Research was a pseudo health research program set up by the Cellular Telephone Industry Association (CTIA) when the early mobile phone industry found itself under siege by health activists over the fact that they had never done any real research to establish that cellular phones, held hard against the side of the head, were not likely to create an epidemic of serious brain problems.
Their reaction was simply to deny such a thing was possible, but their denials were hollow, and eventually they were forced to ask their PR company, Ketcham PR, to find them a mercenary science entrepreneur who could be guaranteed to do a quick-and-dirty study to find nothing, at only a few million dollars in cost.
They were so blatant that even their tame politicians reacted against the triviality of the research effort. Eventually they were forced to hire a well-known (to Ketcham) science-for-sale entrepreneur George L Carlo who agreed to run a program called Wireless Technology Research' (WTR) which he planned to spread out over a few years. With some extensions the original $10 million estimate blew out to $24 million, and then, there were a series of problems which needed the effort to be extended until it cost eventually over $28.5 million. Carlo and his partners were laughing all the way to the bank.
When expenditure had reached the mid-point after a couple of years, the editor of Microwave News Louis Slessin, published an article which contained the famous evaluation of the WTR program, that "George Carlo had managed to spend $17 million without ever getting a test-tube wet." It
|George L Carlo & Ian C Munro|
|Carlo associates and organisations|
|George Carlo (Doc Index) (Also WTR)|
|Health and Environmental Sciences Group|
didn't get any better.
Carlo managed to stretch the WTR scam for many years, but eventually the weight of public opinion became oppressive. Under threat of legal action Carlo requested that the CTIA provide an insurance guarantee against legal threat to those he employed, and when they refused Carlo effectively resigned (or was forced out). He then realised that the value of his reputation could be exploited just as well working for the other side. He then became the famous 'whistleblower' who had been pushed out of the WTR when he discovered that cellphone radiation was a problem. This became the pattern of his future. See Carlo Index
The cellphone radiation problems
There are actually two almost unrelated problems here with cellular phones and the radio- signal radiation which the phyicists know as Electro-Magnetic Force (EMF).
- The first perceived problem was that of the EMF emissions from hundreds of Cellphone base station towers which needed to be dotted around the landscape because the early phone handsets would only transmit a useful signal over distances of a couple a miles. This meant that cellphone towers were inserted everywhere, close to suburban houses, alongside high-rise apartment blocks -- and the local citizens objected. This created the main health concern: while no evidence existed to say the EMF's were dangerous, there was none which could prove that such transmissions were safe. As with passive smoking (ETS), those people who felt they were under threat were often not those who had the benefits. The EMF exposure was an imposition over which they neither had choice, or gained any benefit from the transmissions.
- The second, quite different problem, was that of the small handheld cellular phone themselves. While only having battery power, these transmitted from an antenna which was only centimeters (at the most) from the brain of the user, and by the 1990s enough people understood basic physics enough to know about the Inverse Square Law. This very basic physical principle establishes (with no room for argument) that even low transmission powers at these very short distances can pose a threat to human brain cells -- simply because of the proximity. This was out of all proportion to that posed by the base station towers, and this was the potential threat that most health researchers foresaw.
Mobile Phone transmission types
1. The first type of cellular phone used analog transmission (known as AMPS - Analog Mobile Phone System), much the same as the war-time walkie-talkies, but now compressed into an instrument the size of a brick. It usually had a hand-span-long extended antenna which shifted the actual transmission point away from the head. There were few AMPS mobiles, so the companies constructed few towers -- and so there was a greater distance to reach the handsets, and for the handsets to reach the towers. The AMPS phones therefore transmitted a relatively high power and needed large batteries.
GSM and D-AMPS
The second type was the first of the digital transmission types -- and there were both American and European designs (both essentially working in the same way.) The American form was called "Digital-AMPS' and the European was "GSM" (Groupe Speciale Mobile). These definitely had a potential for biological cellular damage because the out-put power was pulsed -- much like a disco strobe light. While a strobe output may average out at a reasonable figure compared to AMPS, each pulse of power was concentrated - perhaps peaking at 8 -12 times that of a constant power transmitter.
When experimenters Henry Lai and Narendra Singh at the University of Washington tested these transmitters close to the brains of their laboratory rats (then sacrificed the rats looking for cell damage) they found evidence of DNA breaks in the brain cells. DNA breaks of this kind cause cancers and brain tumours but the body has fairly efficient repair mechanisms. Even so, even a marginal increase in DNA breaks above normal levels -- when spread over millions of potential users -- was a major potential threat to public health. The Lai-Singh research seemed to confirm similar findings made by other researchers.
The Lai-Singh findings were demonstrable, and reluctantly accepted by other legitimate researchers, and this raised a red warning flag politically. It was obvious that much more research was urgently needed to detect whether there was an actual increased rates of brian tumours in human users (obviously highly variable and difficult to detect at these low rates). Brain tumors take up to 20 years to develop; the question was, whether anyone wanted to wait to find out!
Digital phones were now small and compact, which positioned the transmitting antenna (now actually built into the body of the device) only millimeters from brain tissue. This combination of pulsed-strobe power output, and the antennas close proximity to the brain, was the cause of all the angst about the safety of these first-generation digital handsets. The handsets now had a potential problem that didn't exist in the base-station transmission. The towers didn't transmit in pulses (they had a continuous EMF output), and even in the worst case, their transmitted power exited the antennae many dozens of meters (not millimeters) from any human tissue. The power-density of radio waves on the human cells was therefore in thousandths, to millionths of those from a handset.
CDMA and W-CDMA
At the time GSM and D-AMPS were being introduced, a company called Qualcomm in San Diego was developing a knew type of digital transmission technology called Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA). This system used coded variations in a relatively constant low-power signal to share the available radio-spectrum with other users. Code-Division techniques got over the potential problem of the pulsed-strob damage to DNA, and it proved to have many other advantages including greater capacity of users, and better voice and image quality. Eventually this new system was introduced in a wide-band form as W-CDMA. This is essentially the type of mobile phone we use today.
The short-distance form of radio transmission used in class-rooms, homes and offices, are Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. Neither uses CDMA. but the technologies are roughly similar. The main factors are:
- They don't transmit pulsed power.
- Since they work over distances measured in metres rather than kilometres, the power output is only a tiny fraction of the cellphone.
- Most of these devices transmit from antenna well away from the side of the head, allowing the Inverse Square Law to operate to benefit.