Wifi worries teachers as Cloud envelopes City

British teaching unions have expressed concerns over the safety of wifi networks in schools on the day that UK wireless broadband operator The Cloud switches on what it claims is “Europe’s most advanced wifi network”, providing coverage in the City of London financial district.

Philip Parkin, the general secretary of UK body the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) has announced his intention to write to the British Government’s Education Secretary, voicing his fears over the potential health impact of radiation from wifi networks in schools.

Parkin’s concerns were picked up by the British mainstream press, which follows the mobile phone health debate closely.

“I am concerned that so many wireless networks are being installed in schools and colleges without any understanding of the possible long term consequences,” said Parkin. “The proliferation of wireless networks could be having serious implications for the health of some staff and pupils without the cause being recognised.”

But Parkin was keen to stress that any links between the networks and symptoms experienced by teachers and or staff have yet to be established. “I am not saying there is a danger, but I have enough concern to ask for it to be investigated,” he said.

Parkin suggested that “huge commercial pressures” to secure the deployment of networks might have hindered any investigation into the effects of radiation.

To date, there has not been any solid evidence linking wireless technology deployments with health issues, yet wifi and mobile usage continues to fuel concerns.

A spokesman for The Cloud was quick to downplay suggestions of harmful impact, while adding that the firm would welcome an official government study into the effect of usage on people.

“There is no substantiated evidence at all that there are dangers [from wifi],” he said. “This story has compared wifi to the mobile mast and mobile phone issues, which isn’t comparing apples with apples.

“A mobile phone can have an output of two watts, while a wifi network would have a maximum of 100 miliwatts. Similarly a cellular base station may have to provide coverage over several miles, while with wifi its 70 to 100 metres.”

The Cloud’s wifi mesh network promises uninterrupted net access from just about anywhere in the Square Mile of London’s financial district.

The Cloud had netted 500 paid for subscriptions for its City of London network by 2pm today.

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