On January 21, 2016, I have published blog “Did CELLRAID do ‘volkswagen’ to the telecom industry?”. It dealt with the issue of trusting in the tests performed by the industry, whether automotive industry or telecom industry. The conclusion was that the industry testing, performed in order to meet requirements posed by the national and international guidelines, is not fully trustworthy. If the product does not meet limits specified in the guidelines, various trickery might be introduced to tests so that the tested product will appear to be in compliance with the guidelines.
When trickery is discovered, authorities might require to change testing methods in order to provide outcomes close to reality, not the “fantasy” achieved by the trickery…
Recently, method of testing car performance in European Union was changed. The NEDC-test (New European Driving Cycle-test) was replaced in 2017 by a more accurate WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure). The WLTP tests mimics better real driving conditions by setting higher average speed, more frequent and faster accelerations and lessening the time of the stationary running engine.
How this better accuracy was achieved, shows how “creative” the industry testing conditions were with the NEDC.
Of course, car buyer was always assured that the car, in regular use, produces certain amount of CO2. But, what was the “regular use” in industry testing:
- The use of fuel was minimized by e.g. removing brake pads and taping uneven surfaces of the chassis to improve aerodynamics.
- Work of engine and gears was optimized specifically for the test conditions.
- Test was performed with car having fully charged battery and the battery loading system was disconnected during testing.
- Testing was performed at optimal temperature of 20 – 30 deg. C.
- Engine was stopped when car stopped.
- Special oils, which are not used by the regular users of cars were used to reduce friction.
Nothing of these constitutes regular use of car by a regular user. Doing these “creative tricks” in the new WLTP tests is forbidden.
So the big question is: How much should we trust in industry testing and industry self-control?
Tricky-testing was revealed for the automobile industry but it is likely that other industries do also “creative tricks” to make their products compliant with the imposed on them safety guidelines and limits.
Telecoms are unlikely an exception… We just need to wait for someone, with proper knowledge and access, to investigate how the “regular use” of cell phone happens in telecom industry tests…
Of course, we need to remember that not only engineers can be “creative” with defining the “regular use”. Scientists can do it too. For example, the EU Interphone research project has defined “regular user” of cell phone as: a person who makes one phone call per week for 6 months (!). Then, it is no wonder that news’ headlines announced that “regular use of cell phone is not hazardous to health“. With this set-up, to define “regular user”, also smoking cigarettes is harmless [sarcasm] because nobody will get lung cancer smoking one cigarette per week for 6 months.