Mobile lobby blames federal laws for dodgy airport reception

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Mobile lobby blames federal laws for dodgy airport reception

Carriers finding it too hard to build towers on federal land.

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association has pushed the federal government to adopt more lenient planning laws to allow carriers to improve mobile coverage in the nation’s airports.

AMTA, the lobby group representing mobile carriers, device manufacturers, network equipment suppliers and retail outlets, said strict federal regulations had meant areas under Commonwealth planning jurisdiction - such as airports - were suffering from an under-provision of telecommunications infrastructure.

AMTA representative Ray McKenzie told Parliament’s Infrastructure and Planning Committee this morning that red tape had created a gaping divide between the high level of commercial and business activity expected to take place in an airport and the mobile carriage capacity of the sites.

He said it was difficult for carriers to get access to airport space "on reasonable terms" to build towers, due to federal rules which stipulate that airport operators are not obliged to negotiate with carriers.

The AMTA submission to the committee described the legislation as having produced “areas of key business and commerce activity that currently lag behind in the provision of the latest mobile technology infrastructure,” – pointing to Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle, Defence sites as other examples.

The association suggested committee MPs consider a 2007 NSW planning amendment - which exempts rural land, industrial zones and some other land categories from the need to obtain local government planning approval ahead of building a mobile tower - as a model for any new telco regulations.

The NSW exemption “applies to sorts of infrastructure that isn’t going to have an impact on community amenity,” McKenzie said.

AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said the telco industry would also benefit from more uniformity in planning laws from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

“If we can get a consistent flow of law, rather than relying on the rather piecemeal situation at present, coverage will benefit – the more streamline we make this the better,” he said.

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