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PPS 10: Telecommunications

Antenna – A passive electrical component which can transmit and receive radio waves.
Attenuation – Reduction in strength of a radio signal as a result of atmospheric absorption, obstruction by buildings etc.
Bandwidth – The physical characteristic of a telecommunications system that indicates the speed at which information can be transferred. In analogue systems, it is measured in cycles per second (Hertz) and in digital systems in binary bits per second (Bit/s).
Base Station – A fixed radio transmitter/receiver which electronically relays signals to and from handsets and other data terminals. Generally taken to include all the component of the development - the antenna, mast or supporting structure, equipment housing, cable runs, fencing, planting, landscaping, access, power supply and land lines.
Beam of Greatest Radio Frequency Intensity – (referred to in this PPS in terms of a concentration of radio waves). For an explanation please refer to the leaflet ‘Mobile  Phone Base Stations and Health’ issued by the Department of Health/Northern Ireland Executive.
Broadband Services – Services in which the bandwidth is sufficient to carry large volumes of data.
Code System Operator – An operator of a telecommunications system under Schedule 2 of the Telecommunications Act 1984, known as the ‘Telecommunications Code’.
Convergence – Denotes the meeting of separate communications technologies so that they no longer have unique associations with particular functions. For instance, an internet television can combine some of the functions of a radio, television, personal computer and telephone (source DTI).
De Minimis – This term covers minor works which, in relative terms, may not have a material effect on the external appearance of the building or structure on which they are installed. As a result they may not come within the legal definition of development and hence not require planning permission. Where such minor works are proposed to a listed building, however, listed building consent may still be required.
Directional Antenna – Any antenna which picks up or radiates antenna signals better in one direction than another.
Director General of Telecommunications – see OFTEL.
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) – A form of non-ionising radiation which arises from a wide range of natural (e.g. earth’s magnetic field) and man-made sources (e.g. domestic wiring, electrical appliances, power lines and radio transmitters).
Fixed Radio Access – A low power (100 miliwatts) radio system for connecting individual subscribers in buildings to a base station.
GSM – Global System for Mobile Communications or Groupe Speciale Mobile - the second generation digital mobile technology used in Europe and other parts of the world.
ICNIRP–International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection. Responsible for co-ordinating knowledge of protection against the various nonionizing radiations. It works closely with organisations of the United Nations including WHO, ILO and UNEP. Strong support is received from the Commission of the European Communities. Work encompasses environmental health criteria on different aspects of non-ionizing radiation. Set up by the International Radiation  Protection Association (
IEGMP – The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, commonly referred to as the Stewart Group. Their report, Mobile Phones and Health is available at or may be purchased (price £20 or £2 for the summary) from the IEGMP Secretariat, c/o Information Office, National Radiological Protection Board, Chilton, Didcot, OXON, OX11 0RQ. Tel: 01235 822742, Fax: 01235 822746.
Non-ionising radiation – Radiation that does not produce ionisation in matter e.g. light, ultraviolet and radio. When these radiations pass through the tissues of the body they do not have sufficient energy to damage DNA directly. (source NRPB)
OFTEL - Office of Telecommunications (the UK telecommunication watchdog). A government department which acts as telelcommunications regulator but is independent of ministerial control. It is headed by the Director General of Telecommunications, who is appointed by the secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The DTI Communications White Paper proposes the creation of a new regulator called the Office of Communications (OFCOM). It will combine the existing functions of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, Independent Television Commission, OFTEL, the Radio Authority, the Radiocommunications Agency and possibly the video classification function carried out by the British Board of Film Classification.
TETRA - Terrestrial Trunked Radio.
Transmitter - Electronic equipment which generates radio frequency electromagnetic energy and is connected to an antenna.
UMTS - Universal Mobile Telecommunications System which is one of the 3G standards.
3G - Third Generation of mobile telephony technology which uses broadband radio to carry large amounts of data.
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