Bluff CCTV camera poles confirmed as cell mast towers

MTN has this week confirmed its partnership with eThekwini Municipality to install infrastructure on CCTV camera poles like the one in Maxwell Avenue on the Bluff.

“Demand for improved speed and connectivity is increasing in tandem with the trends around social media streaming and downloading movies over various platforms. The need for more 4G/LTE capacity is therefore required as we strive to enhance the lives of even more people who rely on our services on a daily basis,” said MTN SA chief technology and information officer, Giovanni Chiarelli.

In order to keep up with the demands of an ever-increasing pool of internet users who demand more of their service providers, more infrastructure was needed to improve connectivity. And this is when the agreement with eThekwini disaster management and emergency control unit came in. The unit allowed MTN to make use of camera poles as sites for their antennae.

“The infrastructure sharing agreement commenced in 2010 and is no different to other sharing agreements MTN and other third parties have with one another to share infrastructure. The aim is to alleviate the need for more structures in close proximity to one another, which then becomes unsightly,” said Chiarelli.

However, when the poles on the Bluff were first erected, eThekwini Municipality denied they were to be used for cellular transmission services. As the process for the installation of cell mast towers requires public participation, the Bluff public took exception to what appeared to be an attempt to circumvent the process. In response to the public outcry about the erection of the poles in public spaces on the Bluff, the city’s spokesman Tozi Mthethwa indicated that a programme was underway in suburbs to “increase security through the construction of poles with CCTV cameras with number plate recognition”.

MTN’s statement of this week says it pays rent to eThekwini disaster management for the use of its poles, which covers the pole installation and operating systems. This includes poles which have been and are still to be installed across the Bluff.

“eThekwini Municipality has the camera poles on their land and manages the entire process. MTN in turn utilises these poles to install their equipment. MTN in some instances placed its equipment on the eThekwini disaster management camera poles prior to eThekwini disaster management installing their CCTV cameras. This was due to eThekwini disaster management not having stock of the CCTV cameras,” read the statement from MTN. “This unfortunately has led to an incorrect perception of the general public that the eThekwini disaster management camera poles were only for cell towers. eThekwini disaster management have now confirmed that they have stock of the CCTV cameras and will be installing them on their camera poles,” said Chiarelli.

The Sun awaits clarity from MTN on how and why it bypassed the public participation process required for the installation of its equipment.

Their statement says they follow World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and remain guided by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) with regard to electromotive force (EMF), with an independent company auditing all the installations.

“Any complaints related to our network or expansion activities are therefore investigated fully. Where complaints are found to be valid we use the results to improve our processes and enhance training to satisfy the community,” said Chiarelli.


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Erin Hanekom

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