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By: MarkJ - 1 September, 2011 (6:09 AM)
wispire uk coverage mapwispire logoThe WiSpire joint venture in Norfolk between the Diocese of Norwich and UK ISP FreeClix, which cleverly aims to bring isolated rural villages into the broadband age by installing fast wireless internet access transmitters on the top of local church towers (spires), has been forced to stall its project at the first hurdle in the village of Postwick after ElectroSensitivity UK (ES-UK) raised highly questionable health fears about the use of Wi-Fi technology.

The service would have allowed local residents to access download speeds of up to 6Mbps (1Mbps upload) and "unlimited" usage (Fair Usage Policy applies) on a 1 month rolling contract for £24.99 per month. Sadly it will now be stalled while the diocesan chancellor, Judge Paul Downes, leads an inquiry into the service.

A spokesperson for ES-UK said ( BBC ):

"We are not against the technology but increasingly research shows electro-magnetic fields can cause symptoms such as headaches, dry skin, chest pains and sleep problems. We just want people to look at all the facts and be very careful."

However both the European Commission (EC) and UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) have consistently said that Wi-Fi is safe to use and frequently cite a lack of evidence for any adjustment to current "exposure limits". Most studies have found it extremely difficult to prove a link between very low frequency EM fields and harmful effects upon human health. Likewise the WiSpire project uses a much lower-powered signal than mobile phones.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) claims:

"Exposures from Wi-Fi equipment are much less than from mobile phones, and are well within international guidelines, so there is no reason why schools and others should not continue to use the technology."

Not that some people aren't still concerned. A recent EC Eurobarometer study found that 48% of Europeans were concerned or very concerned over the potential health risks posed by mobile telephony. In the meantime WiSpire will remain on hold until it can be decided whether or not local residents will need to don tin foil hats.

UPDATE 6th October 2011

A consistory court hearing, which was held by Judge Paul Downes at the end of September, approved the WiSpire project to continue because the Wi-Fi scaremongers lacked "evidence and proof which is positive in nature and capable of evaluation" to support their cause.
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