Telecommunications are an essential part of life. We
use telecommunication services for personal and business communications, to transfer
critical financial data, for fire and burglary control systems, for emergency
services, to watch television and to access the internet.
So, if in New Zealand, we wish
to improve our quality of life and maintain
and improve our competitive advantage on the world stage,we need to be able to
take advantage of rapid technological advances. Fast, reliable and cost
effective telecommunications not only reflects community aspirations, but
broader Government policy. Many Governments
the direct benefits of better access to modern telecommunications, as well as
the broader indirect environmental benefits (eg Teleworking reduces traffic congestion). But telecommunications require an
investment in physical infrastructure. And
with continued growth in services and customer uptake, there’s a greater need to provide the infrastructure closer to
the customer than ever before. This
creates conflict and tension. The broader community want and need the
benefits that modern telecommunications bring, but telecommunications
infrastructure can also create adverse effects and angst for those who live
close to where it is located.
Network providers seek to
roll out services using standardised equipment as it is cost effective and efficient. But there’s
considerable variation between government authorities and how they manage the
decision making process for this infrastructure.
It’s therefore important
that a degree of consistency for assessing infrastructure is achieved. This provides certainty for the telecommunications
industry when sourcing equipment and for providing a cost effective and timely
service for the good of the broader community.
To assist with the roll out
of telecommunications infrastructure, some governments have introduced national regulations. In New Zealand, the Government introduced the
National Environmental Standard for Telecommunications in 2008. These Standards provide for the co-location
of aboveground infrastructure of a
particular size and low impact nature, located within road reserves throughout
New Zealand. In Australia, the Federal Government
introduced the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination in
1997. The important differentiator
between the New Zealand and Australian regulations is that the Determination in
Australia provides for the establishment of low impact telecommunications infrastructure
on both public and private land.
Isn’t it time for New
Zealand to consider regulation for low impact telecommunications infrastructure
on private land? The National
Environmental Standard for Telecommunications has now been in effect in New
Zealand for over five years. Wouldn’t it
be appropriate for the Government to undertake a review? You never know, we could learn something by looking
over the ditch.
This thought leadership article is by Poul Israelson, a Planning Manager in our Brisbane office. Our thought leadership articles on topical and specialist issues are designed to present the key points in an easy to digest and interesting manner.
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