Telstra formally warned over Canberra mobile phone base station

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Telstra formally warned over Canberra mobile phone base station

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has formally warned Telstra for not consulting nearby residents before mobile phone base station deployments.

In an investigation released today, ACMA found that Telstra did not comply with rules outlined in the Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Industry Code. The carrier failed to contact residents in the immediate vicinity of the base station, did not send a letter containing the information to all interested and affected parties and did not acknowledge a written complaint within 10 business days of its receipt.

“There is public concern about the roll-out of mobile infrastructure, including small cell base stations, in residential areas,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“Telcos must keep affected communities in the loop and consider their feedback when establishing or upgrading mobile phone base stations.”

The complaint, which was lodged in July 2018, was related to a mobile phone radiocommunications infrastructure deployment in Canberra, which also included Telstra’s planning consultant Kordia Solutions Australia.

The deployment was made on the rooftop of a building that housed federal government offices, and the written complaint alleged that Telstra did not consult with the residents of an apartment complex next door.

ACMA said Telstra has since “taken steps” to avoid such problems in the future, including reviewing its contractor complaints handling procedures and implementing regular training.

"Consulting with local communities on new mobile towers is an important step in expanding our coverage and we didn’t get that right this time," a Telstra spokesperson told CRN.

"We’ve looked at where we fell short of what’s expected and we’ll make sure we get it right next time." 

In December 2018, ACMA issued a warning against TPG subsidiary Pipe Networks for the same offence, when it failed to provide accurate and up-to-date information to a local council and residents during consultations on a proposed base station deployment. The company also started work before the consultation was finished.

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