Telstra Could Find It Harder To Deploy Emergency Mobile Cell Towers In The Future

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New planning regulations that were designed to make it easier to get emergency mobile communications services could actually stop Telstra from deploying its cell towers on wheels due to a height restriction.

As ITNews reports, the nation's biggest telco is concerned that new rules and legislation that were actually designed to make it easier to deploy infrastructure in case of emergency – such as the bushfires that ravaged much of the nation over the Christmas period – might actually stop the carrier from being able to do just that.

The Telecommunications (Low impact Facilities) Determination drafts call for new rules around the deployment of emergency facilities. The determination notes that:

Temporary facilities can only be deployed in the following situations:
• providing additional capacity during one or more events (such as a concert, festival or sporting event)
• providing additional capacity during a peak holiday period
• minimising service disruption during the maintenance or replacement of an existing facility
• providing services to an emergency services organisation so that it can deal with an emergency or natural disaster.

The new proposed rules should make it easier for telcos to deploy temporary facilities without having to step through levels of local red tape, as long as the actual facility met the criteria of being "low impact".

However, as Telstra notes, new rules around the height of temporary facilities would not mesh well with its existing Cell on Wheels (CoW) trailers, and particularly their antenna masts which work on a pump-up basis.

The new rules would prohibit Telstra from deploying a CoW as well as an extensible tower antenna, and the whole setup would have to fit into a maximum height of 5 metres.

ITNews quotes a Telstra spokesperson as saying:

"Telstra is concerned that the prohibition of a temporary tower (incorporated with a temporary above ground facility) ... and the height limit ... has an unintended consequence of prohibiting the use of a Cell on Wheels (CoW). Having applied the proposed amendments to case studies, it appears that the Telstra CoW ... would not be permitted ... as its built-in pump up mast is incorporated into a temporary above ground facility.

"In addition, the CoW’s temporary antennas located at the top of the pump-up mast exceed five metres above ground, so do not comply with the height limit."

Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Telstra for further comment.

[ITNews]

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