• 10 JUL 05
    • 0

    Tower rental prices $$$ soar in Australia

    From the Beaconsfield Action Group:

    Tower to the people
    By Daniel Dasey, consumer reporter
    July 10, 2005
    The Sun-Herald


    Hundreds of Sydneysiders are raking in huge rents from phone companies by allowing their roofs and walls to be used for mobile phone base stations.

    Commercial property consultants last week said rents in high-demand areas had surged to an average of $25,000 a year as phone carriers extended their networks and looked for ways to improve coverage.

    And, despite concerns by some groups about the health impacts of phone installations, some commercial building and apartment owners are courting phone companies to place antennas on their premises.

    “It goes a bit up and down, but the price is around $20,000 to $25,000,” independent telecommunications consultant Paul Budde said.

    “It’s good money that people are getting, but you need to be in a high-demand area. Obviously if you go outside the area where it’s problematic [for telephone companies] to get the space, the price drops.”

    The number of phone base stations, thought to be about 3000 in Sydney and 5000 in NSW, may double in coming years as new generation phone technology arrives.

    Peter Ryan, NSW commercial director for property agents Jones Lang Lasalle, said property owners were receiving $25,000 annually from phone companies wanting to use their premises. The figure increased by as much as $25,000 with each additional company wanting to use the space.

    “The smart leases will be non-exclusive,” he said. “They can have four or five different ones on the roof.”

    He said the figure represented a healthy rise on the $5000 and $15,000 amounts being paid in the early days of mobile telephony.

    John Wakefield, a commercial property researcher, said he was aware of an undeveloped property in Queensland where the owner was receiving $90,000 in rents from telecommunications users. A Telstra spokesman said some building owners were actively seeking the antennas.

    “It’s quite common for building owners to come to us and seek to get a base station, usually on a commercial premise,” he said. “It’s because of the return and they may want to improve coverage in the local area.”

    Harold Barnes, who operates a taxi base at Hurlstone Park, allowed mobile operator Vodafone to build a tower for base stations on his land 10 years ago.

    He agreed to let the company use the land for a $25,000 annual fee, which is adjusted according to inflation, and signed a 20-year lease agreement.

    “I already had a tower there from Legion cabs, a radio tower,” he said.

    “They approached me and said would I be interested? My only condition was that we incorporated Legion cabs on it. I reckon it’s worth more these days. Probably another 10 grand.”

    Neighbour Samir Siryani signed to allow Telstra to use his landmark property at the corner of Old and New Canterbury roads for 10 years. He declined to reveal the financial side of the deal in terms of which about eight antennas are placed on the roof.

    He said he had seen a range of public buildings with base stations on them.

    “I can’t see any problem with it if a hospital and a big hotel do it,” he said.

    But Lyn McLean, an anti-phone tower campaigner-turned consultant said she had concerns about how electromagnetic radiation generated by the towers affected health.

    She said some international studies had suggested a link to cancer.

    “We don”t really know the long term cumulative consequences of them,” she said. “There”s evidence of symptoms, how serious they are we don’t know”.

    Tanya Stoianoff from industry group the Mobile Carriers Forum said: ” the industry takes advice from world health authorities and all the major reviews have shown there is no substantial evidence of health concerns.

    Mr Budde said the rollout of WiMax networks allowing for wireless broadband internet over the next few years could see the number of base stations greatly increase.

    “It’s quite possible that the number of sites required might double from current levels” he said.

    While there was no conclusive evidence that mobile towers were harmful, there were doubts, he said.

    “We don’t really know all the effects,” he said. “The situation with base stations is they are less dangerous than handsets because handsets are held close to your heads.”

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