The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people work, interact and even behave on a day-to-day basis. Over the past two years this has highlighted the need to maintain connectivity, as we all depend on technology to obtain information, observe social distancing, stay in touch with loved ones and work from home. The maintenance and continuity of Cellnex's business has therefore been critical over these two years.
Cellnex Group has more than 101,802 sites (towers and communication nodes) throughout Europe to provide mobile network communication and television and radio broadcasting (it has more than 1,700 sites exclusively dedicated to transmitting audiovisual and radio signals in Spain), dedicated communication networks for security and emergency services and monitors communication and security in the maritime rescue network, among other things. Cellnex serves more than 338 million people in Europe.
In this regard, even before states of emergency were declared in several European countries in which the Company operates, Cellnex professionals worked on contingency plans to ensure the proper functioning of telecommunications infrastructures, which has ensured round-the-clock continuity of uninterrupted services throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, a specific Global Contingency Plan was drawn up for the COVID-19 situation to guarantee the continuity of critical services, and a Global Crisis Committee was set up, as well as local crisis committees (which report periodically to the Global Committee) to monitor the contingency plan and to respond and take action based on the evolution of the situation.
In this regard, a number of engineers and technicians, grouped in the Service Operation Center (SOC), are in charge of basic tasks to ensure that services keep operating, with permanent assistance 24x7, assessing the state of the networks, data transmission, the operation of DTT and digital radio and the IT security of Cellnex facilities.
In Spain, the main support center is the Network Operation Center (NOC), which for security reasons is split across two sites (Madrid and Barcelona). This is a surveillance centre, similar to that of air traffic controllers or large transport networks, which safeguards the services of the network managed by Cellnex in broadcasting activities (DTT television, digital radio and multimedia services such as streaming), its own network (self -provisioning services for its own television signal, for example) and third-party network services, for fiber or radio customers, with more than 10,000 cellular sites in Spain.
There are other activities also requiring uninterrupted service to which Cellnex has to give guarantees of continuity. One of the most important of these is maritime communications, which Cellnex Spain has been operating under a public mandate from the government for the past 10 years. The Company provides uninterrupted radio coverage to 35 stations distributed throughout the territory to aid navigation and guarantee safety, with three territorial centers in A Coruña, Valencia and Las Palmas. This is an essential service with information on weather and any incidents, and enabling vessels to communicate directly with maritime rescue.
In addition to guaranteeing the continuity of its services, Cellnex has also prioritized the health and safety of its employees. In this regard, since the pandemic began, all Cellnex employees worked from home and, by the end of 2021, gradually returned to the office with health, hygiene and distancing measures in place.
Cellnex has implemented a COVID-19 Recovery Plan, which defines the preventive measures that the organization must take to manage the gradual return to productive activity in Cellnex work sites. Under the Cellnex Recovery Plan there are secure protocols that include a series of general measures for preventing COVID-19 that have been specifically implemented in each country.
For instance, in Spain there is a COVID-19 Safe Work Protocol in offices and another for technical sites, these were audited and certified by TÜV in June 2021, for the corporate headquarters in Barcelona and Madrid, and all the Spain Business Units. In addition, there is a procedure for returning to face-to-face working. It includes health and safety, organisational, and risk-prevention measures designed to reduce the risk of infection.
The main preventive measures ensure social distancing and limit the number of people in the workplace. Below is a non-exhaustive list of measures implemented in the various countries:
Employees are informed of measures taken by:
Cellnex has also been aware of the impact that the pandemic has had on society beyond the need to guarantee the continuity of telecommunications services to ensure social connectivity. Thus, since 2020 Cellnex has run the COVID-19 Relief Initiative, a project involving all Cellnex companies and with funding of more than €10 million to be donated to various organizations and social causes in the countries where Cellnex operates. This initiative is explained in more detail in Chapter 4: Being a facilitator of social progress.
The European Union has reached an agreement on the recovery package and the 2021-2027 budget that will contribute to European reconstruction after the coronavirus pandemic and support investment in green and digital transition.
Next Generation EU is a temporary recovery instrument endowed with more than €800 billion that will help repair the immediate economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to make post-COVID-19 Europe greener, more digital, more resilient and better adapted to current and future challenges.
The Next Generation EU funds are based on three pillars involving public administrations, businesses, and society as a whole: Green Transition, Digitalisation and Re-industrialisation.
Cellnex is present in several EU countries and will therefore be able to actively contribute to the achievement of the objectives set by the European Union. For example, in the digitalization of rural areas, where the objective is to bridge the divide between rural and urban areas and thereby mitigate depopulation by creating the conditions for reliable and resilient access to communication networks and to provide coverage with high-speed networks for the local development of public services such as education and health.
Cellnex's position as a neutral and independent infrastructure operator gives it the opportunity to provide its customers and society with solutions to promote new technologies throughout Europe. Next Generation funds can be a mechanism for this, which is why Cellnex aspires to participate in initiatives in which, as a company, it can add value. The lines of action are: urban and rural agenda and combating depopulation, resilient infrastructures and ecosystems, 22nd century administration, modernization and digitization of the business ecosystem.
Accordingly, Cellnex has actively worked on multiple proposals for the deployment of Next Generation funds in Cellnex's scope of operation and in the eligible countries, providing ideas and proposing approaches, leading and acting as partners for the main stakeholders (public administrations and industry) through the figures established (MDI Spain, AMi, France, etc.).
All the proposals are aimed at meeting the expectations or connectivity needs which the digital transformation included in the national resiliency plans. Digital connectivity is a key factor for the development of economic activity, for increasing productivity, boosting innovation and territorial and social structuring.
All these initiatives should help Cellnex and the countries where it operates to establish themselves as a benchmark for connectivity, and enable a transformation of their productive network, helping the process of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
Cellnex can help to improve the coverage of urban spaces, providing greater digitalisation of public spaces and public services such as hospitals, schools, research centres, etc.). In this regard, Cellnex is focusing its efforts on the development and roll-outt of 5G technology.
To make high-speed broadband available quickly, in 2014 the European Union established a set of harmonised measures to reduce the cost of broadband deployment, through the Broadband Cost Reduction Directive. The European Commission has started a revision process and a new proposal is expected by the end of 2022.
The Broadband Cost Reduction Directive reduces the cost and helps to accelerate broadband deployment by:
Therefore, the Directive introduces measures to simplify permitting and make it more transparent. This leads to time savings and, potentially, to advanced services being provided earlier to end-users. In addition, it lowers barriers to market entry, which favours competition.
In this regard, addressing the forthcoming new Cost Reduction Directive, as well as the costs and opportunities it will bring, is a strategic priority for Cellnex's business.
The digital society and digital technologies bring new ways to learn, entertain, work, explore and fulfil ambitions. They also bring new freedoms and rights, and give EU citizens the opportunity to reach beyond physical communities, geographic locations and social positions. However, there are still many challenges associated with digital transformation that need to be addressed during the digital decade.
In this regard, on 9 March 2021, the European Commission presented a vision and pathways for Europe's digital transformation by 2030. This digital compass for the EU's digital decade is developed around four cardinal points: Skills, Digital transformation of enterprises, Secure and sustainable digital infrastructures, and Digitisation of public services. Key policy areas to ensure that these objectives are met include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, digital identities, data and connectivity.
In addition, the digital decade can also help the EU meet the objectives of the European Green Deal, helping Europe reach its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.
The Commission would first develop projected EU trajectories for each target to monitor progress towards the goals. In turn, Member States would define the projected trajectories at national level, to the extent possible, and propose national strategic roadmaps, outlining their plans, to achieve them. Progress along the national and EU trajectories would be assessed annually.
Some of the proposed projects fall under the umbrella of 5G deployment in transport networks, as well as deployment in European cities to provide seamless connectivity. As well as making BTS servers more sustainable (lower consumption and lower carbon footprint). This is why Cellnex is monitoring the proposals at European and country level that are being developed within the framework of the Digital Decade.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) comes from many different sources and occurs in various situations in everyday life. EMF in the extremely low frequency (ELF) range are ubiquitous, where the main sources of these fields are in-house installations such as household appliances and powerlines. The environmental exposure from EMF is dominated by broadcasting antennas, antennas from private and governmental telecommunication services and mobile communications base stations.
In 2015, an opinion of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) of the European Commission was published on the potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. The final result of the opinion concluded that the results of current scientific research show that there are no obvious adverse health effects if the exposure is kept below the levels recommended by EU legislation.
In 2018, the European Commission published the EU Electronic Communications Code, which calls for consistency and predictability throughout the Union in granting the use of the radio spectrum, while protecting public health and ensuring more consistent 5G deployment conditions throughout the Union.
According to the EU Electronic Communications Code, exposure to electromagnetic fields caused by wireless communications equipment is subject to the limits defined in a Council Recommendation. These limits are established in accordance with the guidelines published by the International Commission for the Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiations. Cellnex complies with the defined limits, both for workers and for the general public. Furthermore, Cellnex complies with the local legislation regarding electromagnetic emissions in each of the countries in which the company operates.
In order to demonstrate its commitment to society regarding the possible electromagnetic impact of its sites, Cellnex works with groups of experts in research on electromagnetic emissions and their impact on the environment and human health. Cellnex also participates in activities related to the evaluation, management and communication of the possible risks that this exposure may pose to health.
In this regard, in 2020 Cellnex created an internal multidisciplinary working group made up of representatives from different functional areas and from all the countries in which Cellnex operates, which coordinates Cellnex's approach to EMC problems in order to be an internal forum for exchange of knowledge and best practices, monitor national, international and European Union developments, coordinate technical and regulatory approaches, and work on an eventual EMC strategy.
One objective of the working group is to achieve the participation of its interest groups (ORM, public administrations, sectoral associations, employers) in each country. To this end, the EMF Working Group collaborates with national and international telecommunications industry associations, supports initiatives such as 'Speed up Britain' and 'Chance5G', participates in events, webinars and training sessions, and develops and disseminates area reports.
In Ireland, Cellnex works with IBEC (Irish Business and Employers Confederation) to produce a 5G FAQs leaflet and a COVID-19 and 5G factsheet. Cellnex Ireland also has assisted the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) in producing a public 5G factsheet.
Cellnex works with DigitalES, the Spanish Association for Digitisation, which performs activities related to radio emissions. This work involves examining issues of legal compliance and proposals for improvement, based on the recommendations of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), in addition to studying 5G emissions.
In Italy, Cellnex works with Asstel, a branch dedicated to the whole TLC ecosystem within the Italian Association of industrial enterprises (CONFINDUSTRIA). Asstel has always been very vocal in advocacy for the sector on all industrial and political issues towards all stakeholders (NRA, Parliament, Local Administrations) throughout the debate on the development of digitalization. Since 2018 a strong institutional and communication effort has been carried out on EMF and 5G. With the engagement of valued academic institutions, extensive research has been carried out thanks to the cooperation with Universities, Public and Private Health research Institutes, Engineering, Economic Studies, with the goal of establishing a robust debate and being able to react to adverse criticism on solid grounds on multidisciplinary aspects.
In the UK there is a National Register of Radio Frequency Workers. It was established in 2002 and is the only database of its kind dedicated to exploring the possible health effects of people potentially exposed to radiofrequency above the reference values of the general public.
Public exposure limits for electromagnetic fields are based on guidelines established by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection. Its exposure standards for radiofrequency are based on the assumption that the main route of potential damage is through heat deposition, with the additional potential for nerve stimulation at lower frequencies.
Cellnex UK is currently in the process of registering as a member of the National Registry of Radiofrequency Workers. In addition, Karina Beeke, a radiofrequency expert at Cellnex UK, is a member of ITU-R WP6A, the group of rapporteurs that deals with exposure to radiofrequencies.
Cellnex Switzerland supports “Forschungsstiftung Strom und Mobilkommunikation (FSM)”. The Swiss Research Foundation for Electricity and Mobile Communication (FSM) is a non-profit-making foundation for promoting scientific research into the opportunities and risks of radio and electric power technologies that produce and use electromagnetic fields. Further aims of the FSM are the publication of the results of this research in scientific bodies and the dissemination of the research findings and specialist knowledge about electromagnetic fields within the broader community.
Furthermore, Cellnex Switzerland is a member of a working group related to mobile communications and radiation created by the Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) in Switzerland. As a member, Cellnex contributes to shape the future development of the mobile network in the country.
Cellnex also participates in the working groups on EMF in the following international associations, of which it is a member:
Cellnex has set up an internal Task Force, a multidisciplinary group that coordinates the Cellnex approach to EMF issues with the vision of being an internal forum to exchange knowledge and best practices; monitoring international, European Union and national developments; coordinating the Technical and Regulatory approaches; and working on an eventual EMF strategy.
The EMF Task Force includes representatives from different functional areas and from all the countries in which Cellnex operates. The working group strives to involve and engage the stakeholders (MNOs, public administrations, sector associations, business associations) in each country. To this end, the EMF Task Force collaborates with telecom sector associations at national and international level, supports initiatives such as “Speed up Britain” and “Chance5G, participates in events, webinars and training sessions and drafts and distributes a report in this regard.
Cellnex complies with municipal regulations regarding the location of sites. For this, criteria such as the emission of radio frequencies and the visual impact are taken into account.
In relation to the visual impact, camouflage measures are carried out based on a "catalog of camouflage". Another initiative is to build multi-operator infrastructures capable of satisfying more customers while reducing the environmental impact. Therefore, regarding the visual impact, Cellnex works for the complete integration of the sites in the urban or rural environment.
In 2021, 93 complaints were received, generally related to damage terrain, noise and no access permission (88 in 2020).
We use our own and third-party cookies for analytical purposes and to show you personalized advertising based on a profile prepared from your browsing habits (for example, pages visited). Click HERE for more information. You can accept all cookies by pressing the "Accept" button or configure or reject their use by pressing the "Configure" button.ACCEPT AND CONTINUE Configure cookies