Battle of antennas in mobile telephony

An orange repeater antenna, in Mazeyrat-d'Allier (Haute-Loire), on June 3, 2022.

For the past few weeks, Bruno Garnier has been gripped by a strange obsession: “I see antennas everywhere. » His illness began on July 16. While on vacation in his family’s village of Lanhouarneau (Finistère), where he is building a house for a peaceful retirement, this 67-year-old former teacher learns, in the course of a conversation, that a cell phone repeater antenna Bouygues Telecom is about to grow at the end of his garden, on adjoining agricultural land.

This neighbor, whom Bruno Garnier has known since childhood, “I had been told that we would have a drink to celebrate our construction. But he never told me that he would rent a piece of his land to build an antenna », sighs, although he still wants to believe in the action taken with other neighbors to try to prevent the construction of this 24-meter-high metal pylon. To reassure himself, Bruno Garnier can tell himself that he is not the only one who sees antennae everywhere.

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France has become the country of 60,000 mobile phone sites, if we count the towers, the water towers, the rooftops and all the other high points on which the antennas essential for the operation of the operators’ networks are located. of telecommunications. At 1Ahem September, the National Agency of Frequencies, the policeman of the radio waves, listed precisely 62,059 mobile sites, 2,474 more than the 1Ahem January.

saturated high points

In 2012, the year 4G was launched in France, there were only 36,425. In ten years, the number of sites has almost doubled. And it’s not over. “Everyone wants 4G to read their emails, interact on social networks and watch videos. But, for that, you need antennas and high points to install them»explains Liza Bellulo, president of the French Federation of Telecommunications (FFT), the association that brings together Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom.

Physics is like this: the more you use your mobile, the more powerful the networks must be to route the data. In ten years, according to Arcep, the telecommunications policeman, the annual consumption of mobile data has multiplied by 170. The antennas have also grown under the effect of the protection of the authorities to the operators to cover white areas, regions where it is impossible pick up a net: under the “new deal” signed in 2018 with the StateOrange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free have committed to building 5,000 new sites by 2026.

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