Despite ongoing community concerns and parliamentary inquiries on mobile phone towers, NBN Co has had a 100 per cent success rate in getting its towers approved by local councils so far.
Last week it was reported by The Australian that NBN Co had been given a "wake-up call" after plans for a 40-metre tower in Buninyong, south of Ballarat, had been rejected by the Ballarat Council. However, according to the council minutes (PDF), the application was lodged by Crown Castle, not NBN Co.
NBN Co had expressed interest in using the tower for its fixed-wireless long-term evolution network, but it was to mainly be used by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.
The council rejected the application because it would: "create a dominant visual intrusion into the local landscape through its location and height", be a detriment to adjacent land, and require native vegetation removal that would impact the local koala habitat.
NBN Co told ZDNet Australia that the company has had 10 approvals for tower construction so far, and no rejections, with a further 41 towers waiting for approval.
A trial of NBN Co's LTE network is set to take place in Armidale, Tamworth, Toowoomba, Ballarat, Darwin and Geraldton in April, with iiNet, Internode and Rivertel among the internet service providers to take part in the trial. NBN Co will need a total of 94 towers; NBN Co has co-located in 43 existing towers and begun construction on 12 so far.
The first five trial sites will cover 14,000 homes. The full roll-out of the fixed-wireless LTE network is expected to cover 4 per cent (or 500,000) of the 7 per cent of Australian premises not covered by the fibre roll-out. NBN Co will need to co-locate or build 2300 towers in total by 2015 for the network.