Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates from the Australian Government

Amendments to the telecommunications carrier powers and immunities framework—Tranche One

The Australian Government is seeking comments on proposed amendments that could better balance and modernise the operation of the carrier powers and immunities framework.

Why we want your input

Your feedback will be used to inform advice to Government on how changes to the framework should be implemented.

How you can voice your opinion

You can submit your views by providing a written submission by 5:00pm Thursday 1 April 2021.

What will be the outcome of this consultation?

Your feedback will inform advice to Government on how changes to the framework will better balance the interests of landowners and carriers.

The Issue

Telecommunications companies have powers to enter land and install and maintain some types of telecommunications facilities, and immunities from state and territory laws when doing so. These carrier powers and immunities are set out under Schedule 3 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 and are critical to the efficient construction and maintenance of telecommunications networks.

The Department consulted on 12 possible changes to the carrier powers and immunities framework over a six-week period ending on 30 October 2020. The proposals were designed to better balance and modernise the operation of the framework. The consultation outcomes paper and non-confidential submissions are available on the Improving the telecommunications powers and immunities framework consultation page.

Stakeholder feedback enabled the Department to identify appetite for regulatory and non-regulatory change. This consultation package represents the next step – outlining details of what proposed changes could look like.

Current consultation

The Department has prepared exposure drafts of amendments to the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2018 (Code of Practice) and Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 2018 (LIFD) to assist stakeholder understanding of the effects of the proposed changes.

The Department is seeking stakeholder feedback on the substance and operation of the proposed changes.

Code of Practice amendments

The proposed amendments to the Code of Practice primarily relate to the following proposals:

  • Clarify existing safety conditions;
  • Introduce a new engineering certificate requirement;
  • Introduce a new requirement for carriers to withdraw notices for cancelled activities;
  • Introduce a new power for carriers to refer a matter to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, after they have made reasonable efforts to resolve the matter in good faith; and
  • Include a timeframe in which carriers must refer landowner-requested objections to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

The accompanying Explanatory Statement provides further details of the proposed changes.

LIFD amendments

The proposed amendments to the LIFD primarily relate to the following proposals:

  • Increase the maximum protrusion length of antennae from 3 metres to 5 metres;
  • Increase the maximum diameter of a radiocommunications dish from 1.8 metres to 2.4 metres;
  • Amend the current tower extension conditions to include commercial areas, and to allow for subsequent extensions to a tower up to a cumulative maximum height of 5 metres; and
  • Increase the maximum co-location volume limit in Commercial areas from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

The proposed changes are intended to occur concurrently with amendments to the Code of Practice which would clarify and reinforce existing carrier requirements to ensure the exercise of applicable powers and immunities are conducted safely and complies with industry standards and codes.

Increasing the dimensions of existing facilities could also encourage greater co-location and minimise the impact on the local visual amenity, by reducing the requirement to install new, stand-alone facilities.

Further details are set out in the Explanatory Statement for the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Amendment Determination 2021.

Your feedback on the proposed amendments will assist the Government in ensuring that reforms to the powers and immunities framework are reasonable, fit-for-purpose, and meet the needs of modern Australia.

Relevant Documentation

Exposure Draft of the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2021

Published 1st Mar 2021

Download PDF (464.4 KB)  Download DOC (172.69 KB)

Explanatory Statement of the Telecommunication Code of Practice 2021

Published 1st Mar 2021

Download PDF (258.23 KB)  Download DOC (94.03 KB)

Exposure Draft of the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Amendment Determination 2021

Published 1st Mar 2021

Download PDF (86.81 KB)  Download DOC (88.51 KB)

Explanatory Statement for the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Amendment Determination 2021

Published 1st Mar 2021

Download PDF (67.03 KB)  Download DOC (46.48 KB)

Table—Restructure of existing conditions into new Chapter 1A

Published 1st Mar 2021

Download PDF (227.37 KB)  Download DOC (149.33 KB)

Outcome

The department received 19 submissions from a wide range of stakeholders, and are available below.

After considering this feedback, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts agreed to make the Telecommunications Code of Practice 2021 (Code of Practice) and the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Amendment Determination 2021 (LIFD). These instruments implement seven of the 12 proposals from the consultation paper released in September 2020.

The instruments are now available on the Federal Register of Legislation. The instruments commence the day after they are registered.

Summary of the changes introduced by the instruments

Code of Practice

  • Consolidated carrier conditions relating to safety and operations into a new Chapter.
  • New requirement for carriers to provide landowners with installation certificates that apply to certain types of facilities.
  • Extended record keeping obligations for carriers relating to depth of underground facilities at the time of installation.
  • New requirement for carriers to withdraw notices for cancelled activities.
  • New power that enables carriers to refer  a matter to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
  • Inclusion of a timeframe in which carriers must refer landowner-requested objections to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

LIFD

  • Increased the maximum protrusion length of antennae from 3 metres to 5 metres;
  • Increased the maximum diameter of a radiocommunications dish from 1.8 metres to 2.4 metres;
  • Amended the current tower extension conditions to include commercial areas, and to allow for subsequent extensions to a tower up to a cumulative maximum height of 5 metres; and
  • Increased the maximum co-location volume limit in commercial areas from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

The amendments do not affect rules relating to exposure to electromagnetic energy (EME). All radiocommunications facilities must operate below the limits set out in the Radiocommunications (Electromagnetic Radiation – Human Exposure) Standard 2014 and the Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015. The limits are based on the Radiation Protection Standard – Maximum Exposure Levels to Radiofrequency Fields – 100 kHz to 300 GHz. Typically facilities operate at a small percentage of allowable exposure levels.

More information on the research, regulation and safety of EME from telecommunications services is available here.

Participate

01 Mar 2021 10:00 AEDT
09 Apr 2021 17:00 AEST
Closed
This consultation is closed.

Submissions

Australian Local Government Association
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association LTD
Axicom
Document
City of Melbourne
City of Sydney
Council of Capital City Lord Mayors
NBN Co
Document
NSW Water Directorate
OneWiFi
Document
Property Council of Australia