As the NBN Co begins to lodge its planning applications for towers for its long-term evolution (LTE) fixed wireless network, the company is already facing backlash from local residents.
In November and December last year, contractors acting on behalf of the NBN Co began lodging a number of applications for the erection of towers in the initial launch sites in areas surrounding Geraldton in Western Australia, Toowoomba in Queensland, Tamworth in New South Wales, Ballarat in Victoria and Darwin in the Northern Territory.
Ericsson scored the $1.1 billion contract to build the LTE network for the NBN Co, and has dished out the construction work to Visionstream.
According to one planning application submitted to Toowoomba Council, the NBN Co is looking to build 40-metre towers at an estimated cost of $200,000 each. Each tower will have three panel antennas that are no more than 2.8 metres in length and one parabolic antenna. Each site will have three outdoor cabinets to house equipment and an additional equipment shelter for air-conditioning equipment. The towers will be surrounded by a 2.5m-high fence, and the total area of the site is estimated to be 60m².
Construction for the towers are estimated to take 10 weeks.
Aps Pty Ltd has applied to Tamworth Council on behalf of the NBN Co for a facility in Moore Creek, while the NBN Co is the sole applicant for a development in Linthorpe in Queensland.
Hepburn Shire Council in Northern Victoria received two applications from the NBN Co; one for the construction of a 25-metre tower on top of a building in North Melbourne situated north west of the Melbourne CBD, and south-west of the national broadband network first release site of Brunswick.
The second application for a tower in Smeaton has run into controversy already. The local paper The Courier reported yesterday that a couple who own a property situated next to the tower's proposed location oppose the construction because of health concerns.
The NBN Co had reportedly originally approached the couple to house the tower on their land for $8000 a year, but the company was turned away.
Local opposition to the construction of towers is an issue faced by all mobile telecommunications companies, and construction of new towers could potentially be delayed if private members Bills currently before parliament from Independent MP Andrew Wilkie and Greens Senator Bob Brown are successful in forcing stricter planning controls on tower construction.
The NBN Co will avoid building new towers where it can, instead opting to co-locate into towers with available space. The NBN Co has estimated it will need to either co-locate or build 2300 towers to cover the 500,000 premises for the fixed wireless roll-out.
The first sites for the fixed wireless network are set to go live later this year, and this portion of the network roll-out is scheduled to be completed by 2015.