Thursday, 25 April 2019

Industry vow to improve dialogue with the community

  AMTA CEO Chris Althaus cropped

AMTA CEO Chris Althaus


The two recently defeated private members bills, which aimed to restrict mobile infrastructure deployment in Australia, should serve as a wake-up call for the mobiles industry to work harder to explain the safety of mobile networks and the importance of comprehensive coverage in the community, AMTA CEO Chris Althaus has told a conference in Sydney.


“As we have seen with the Wilkie and Brown Bills in Parliament there are some people in communities who are concerned about the roll-out of base stations because they have concerns about health and safety issues or they don’t like the way they look,” Althaus, told the Communications Day conference in April.


“Industry does not dismiss these people and respects their concerns and our task is to redouble our efforts to explain and consult with them about the strict safety limits that base stations operate under and how they are providing vital services demanded by the wider community."


Mr Althaus said a consistent drop in complaints lodged with the ACMA since the first industry code of practice was introduced six years ago showed they are committed to improving their relationship with local communities, especially against the backdrop of increased deployment to keep up with the boom in mobile broadband.


“It’s in nobody’s interest – least of all the industry’s – to have staunch opposition to deployment of infrastructure in the community," Mr Althaus said.


“The bottom line is mobile phones will not work without base stations to connect them and with demand for mobile broadband increasing exponentially networks need more base stations to cater for consumer demand.”


“All of this infrastructure is critical to serving the community, but we need to be able to explain the links between infrastructure and service, we need to get the balance right between reasonable consultation… and efficient deployment, and describe what’s happening in the health and safety debate.”


“It’s all about a partnership because demand growth is all about providing services that people want to use on a daily basis.”


Mr Althaus said the support for stricter deployment legislation by community groups prompted the industry to review their consultation efforts with the community.


“We can be critical about these people but in actual fact they’re just concerned; they’re not sure about the visual nature of a tower going up, they’re not sure about electromagnetic emissions – they’re just concerned that their environment is going to be spoiled," Mr Althaus said.


“We are not going to stand here and say that we have got it right all the time – and industry accepts that ‘pleasing all of the people all of the time’ is very difficult. However, we have a responsibility to promote the facts regarding the presence and performance of our infrastructure in the community.”


Mr Althaus said the new, revised Communications Alliance Mobile Phone Base Station Deployment Industry Code would go a long way to improving community consultation supported by an update to the health and safety information supplied on AMTA’s Radio Frequency National Site Archive.

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