• 16 JUN 17
    • 0

    Government paving the way for 5G and the IoT

    NOTE: See my thoughts on this below

    Don

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    Consultation on possible amendments to telecommunications carrier powers and immunities

    The Australian Government is seeking comments on possible amendments to telecommunications carrier powers and immunities.

    Dear Stakeholder

    The Government is seeking comments on possible changes to telecommunications carrier powers and immunities.

    The proposals would amend the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 1997 (LIFD), the Telecommunications Code of Practice 1997 (Code) and potentially, Schedule 3 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act).

    The Government is seeking community feedback on the proposals to assist it in deciding on the way forward.

    To help provide better telecommunications services more quickly and cost‑effectively, telecommunications carriers have powers and immunities under Schedule 3. These powers and immunities help them install and maintain telecommunications network facilities.

    Most aspects of carrier powers and immunities have been in place since 1997. Since then, communications technologies have evolved rapidly, and demand for services and data has increased dramatically.

    The changes would reflect new technologies and work practices and reduce regulatory costs. The proposed changes will help carriers better meet the needs of consumers at lower cost.

    Amongst other things, the changes would clarify the operation of some existing powers and immunities, allow some new types of facilities, make changes to some existing facility types, and streamline some of the land owner notification and objection rules.

    More information, including the consultation paper, and mark-ups of the possible amendments to the LIFD and Code can be found at https://www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/consultation-possible-amendments-telecommunications-carrier-powers-and-immunities

    Submissions should be lodged by Friday, 21 July 2017.

    Carrier Powers and Immunities Team
    Department of Communications

    P +61 2 6271 1000
    E powersandimmunities@communications.gov.au
    W www.communications.gov.au

    Department of Communications
    Level 1, 44 Sydney Avenue, Forrest ACT 2603
    GPO Box 2154 Canberra ACT 2601

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    Commentary

    I have had a read through the consultation papers dated this June and there are no pleasant surprises there. To me, it looks suspiciously like the government/industry alliance preparing the ground for thousands of “low impact” 5G antennas to enable the Internet of Things (IoT). As for that sticky question of possible health effects of antennas, no worries because it is stated in the consultation paper:

    “It is the assessment of ARPANSA and other leading health authorities such as the World health Organisation that there are no known health effects at low RF EME levels, such as those emitted by telecommunications transmitters. ARPANSA maintains continual oversight of emerging research into the potential health effects of RF EME emissions.”

    SO, the well trodden Procrustean Approach is followed again by the folks at ARPANSA. ‘Don’t rock the boat and protect the industry line at all costs’….. And ARPANSA used to be about protecting public health.

    In my opinion, the whole purpose of the exercise is to give the carriers more power to install new transmitting equipment with far greater immunity from state, local and public concerns.

    To quote in part from the paper’s Overview:

    These powers and immunities help them (carriers) install and maintain telecommunications network facilities…telecommunications carriers have asked the Australian Government to consider making changes to carrier powers and immunities… The telecommunications industry has indicated that the changes could lead to significant time and cost savings and improved services to the community. It will also reduce burden on government and other agencies to administer these regulations. Generally, the proposed changes would:
    * clarify the operation of existing powers and immunities
    *allow some increases in the size of existing facilities
    *allow some new types of facilities (e.g. lens antennas)
    *allow some types of facilities in new areas (e.g. omnidirectional antennas)
    *alter some land owner and occupier notification and objection timeframes and processes in the Telecommunications Code, and
    * potentially, enable temporary or replacement towers or extension to be installed in some limited circumstances.

    The industry is holding out the $$$ carrot to the government by claiming that removing all those pesky onerous regulations could result in over $100 million per year in regulatory cost savings to industry and government and over $50 million per year in economic and social productivity benefits to consumers. A remarkably similar spin  to that put out by the Republicians in Trump’s America.   In my opinion, this is an industry written proposal to facilitate new technologies such as the smart grid, coming 5G network and the Internet of Things.

    The industry wants to have the lot classified as low impact facilities, but at least these facilities will have to be sensitivity painted to blend into the environment. Local governments may be given a say in what colours are mutually acceptable. Nice touch that.

    An amazing feat of scientific logic that you can make a facility “low-impact” simply with a coat of paint!

    AND why complain over the potential health hazards when the Hogwarts wizards at ARPANSA have determined there are no hazards anyway!

    Enough spin to topple a army of whirling dervishes…..

    Don Maisch

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