news One of the first communities in Tasmania to receive the National Broadband Network’s fibre infrastructure has knocked back two planning applications for NBN wireless towers in the area, continuing a trend seen nationally of concern over the infrastructure.
In briefing notes published following a meeting held by the Dorset Council in Tasmania on August 20, the council noted it had refused planning applications for NBN fixed wireless towers at the Scottsdale Golf Course and another tower in the suburb of Winnaleah. The council has not yet published the minutes for its meeting, which would be likely to reveal why it had blocked the two towers.
Scottsdale was one of the first communities in Tasmania to receive NBN fibre, as part of early NBN rollout plans targeting the historically broadband-starved state. It is believed that the fibre infrastructure was strongly welcomed in the area. NBN Co has published a case study on its website from a pharmacy in the region, for example, discussing the benefits of the rollout.
The news comes as a number councils all around Australia continue to reject the NBN’s wireless towers, which are being used to serve a small percentage of residents and business premises not served by the NBN’s predominantly fixed-line fibre infrastructure.
In June, for example, Moorabool Shire voted down an NBN tower near Ballarat. In July, a tower outside of Warrnambool was similarly rejected, just a month after another tower was rejected in Napoleons.
Residents of each area have commonly cited the visual impact of the towers in their region as being the issue, and some have also questioned whether the 12Mbps guaranteed speeds under the service would be an improvement on their current broadband access. NBN Co has commonly responded that it has tried to meet residents’ concerns, but was disappointed by the community concern.
Where NBN Co is not able to erect wireless infrastructure, it will instead be forced to provide a significantly degraded level of service through satellite access, which provides much slower latency — and, until NBN Co launches its own satellite service through 2015 — slower speeds than those possible on the company’s wireless infrastructure.
I live in Sydney, where there are various towers of many kinds as well as large buildings dotting every skyline, so it’s hard for me to really empathise with this kind of rural dissent against getting better broadband. I just don’t really understand why anyone would pass up getting significantly enhanced and guaranteed broadband to their property, just because if you happen to look in one direction, there’s a fairly minimal telecommunications tower. If I lived in such an area and a bunch of locals blocked my access to better broadband, I’d be fuming.
Given what I know of the company, I also don’t think that NBN Co is going out there and finding unsuitable locations for towers; I’m sure that where it is installing towers, it’s finding as unobtrusive locations as possible, and not smack bang in the middle of famous views etc.
However, it is also true that this kind of infrastructure is subject to local council approval; that’s what local councils are there for. Local residents do have their right to have a say, and if nothing else, this demonstrates the fact that they are engaged in their community, which can only be ultimately a good thing.