The Australian government has opened a public consultation on whether to grant Australia Pacific LNG's (APLNG) private mobile network a carrier licence exemption, after the company proposed a plan to open the network up to commercial telco providers.
APLNG is already building its own private telecommunications network that covers 500km of the Surat Basin in Queensland to support its liquefied natural gas (LNG) operation in the state. Since the network was initially intended to be closed to the public, it did not require a telco carrier licence.
But APLNG wants to contract telco providers to install their own network equipment on the new backhaul infrastructure to improve mobile phone coverage in the region and for the mobile services to be available to the public in the area.
The company claims that the improved coverage will benefit the community and APLNG workers, as well.
Since mobile carriers will be making their services public under the proposal, APLNG is seeking the carrier licence exemption.
Submissions to the consultation can be made to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) until July 12.
APLNG is a joint-venture project between energy companies Origin, ConocoPhillips, and Sinopec.
The DBCDE today received a new boss in the form of Australian Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who also became the new communications minister and will be running the department after the departure of Senator Stephen Conroy.
Senator Conroy left as a result of former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard being ousted from the top job last week. Kevin Rudd has returned as prime minister after being replaced three years ago.