A new code will be implemented which aims to help quell community concern about the placement of mobile phone base stations.
The new Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Industry Code will replace the Deployment of Mobile Phone Network Infrastructure Industry Code and has been developed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). It follows a review by the Communications Alliance.
“The new code raises the bar on community consultation and transparency about carriers installing mobile phone base stations and I expect that it will help to address recent community concerns about the location of new base stations,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.
The underlying tenets of the code are to involve the community more in decisions on where mobile phone base station infrastructure will be located; this has primarily been dictated by telcos in the past.
With community concerns largely centred on potential health risks posed by radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RER), the code aims to include the community more and improve transparency.
A number of changes have been made to the previous code to address these concerns, including adopting a collaborative approach to station locations between carriers, local councils and the community and the adoption of a community consultation web portal which will allow the public to access information about new mobile phone base stations.
The new code also specifies sensitive locations, such as schools, aged care facilities and hospitals, should be identified early in the piece. However, ACMA states in its factsheet that when mobile phone telecommunications infrastructure is placed further away from sensitive areas, this can increase RER as the base station may need to operate at higher levels to meet service requirements.
This is a view which the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association has put forward, previously stating exclusion zones around mobile phone base stations do not work as it not only increases RER but can also result in patchy networks.
Telcos are already bound by legislation that requires them to consult with the public when planning, installing and operating radio telecommunications infrastructure.
The code will come into effect 1 July this year.
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