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Illegal mobile service boosters causing dangerous drop-outs in outback towns

26 Feb 2018

As residents of outback Queensland scramble for reliable telecommunications, illegal mobile phone coverage boosters have been blamed for a spate of service outages.

In recent months, the towns of Charleville and Camooweal in western Queensland have reported damaged mobile coverage with phone calls dropping out.

"You could talk to someone for about 20 seconds, then it would just cut out," Camooweal resident Russell Young said.

"First I thought my phone was had it, then so did a lot of other people and then we found that all the phones couldn't be faulty and then we started complaining to Telstra."

Illegal repeaters, which are used to boost mobile coverage in marginal areas, can send out a signal strong enough to suck coverage from nearby phone towers and damage the entire service.

Telstra northern Queensland general manager Rachel Cliffe said the illicit boosters had been found in the Camooweal area when the town's service was compromised.

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US warns Australia against Huawei 5G involvement: report

25 Feb 2018

The US has warned Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull not to allow Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to supply equipment for any future 5G networks, indicating that there are security risks involved.

The Australian Financial Review  reported that Turnbull, who is on a visit to the US, was told of Washnigton's concerns about Huawei when he met the head of the NSA, Mike Rogers, and the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, on Friday.

Turnbull was told that Huawei's involvement in any project carried the risk of cyber espionage, and that Chinese spying was among the top two risks on the cyber security agenda of the US-Australia partnership.

An official who was involved in the talks was quoted as saying: "When you control telco networks, you can control everything."

According to the AFR, Huawei is part of a working group drawn up by the Department of Communications which includes other suppliers and carriers that will help to roll out 5G technology.

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Resident's pleas over Telstra tower

25 Feb 2018

HOW would you feel if a 10-storey tower was placed within metres of your home?

In the small community of Nymboida, Brenden Stockdale is about to have a new neighbour - a 10-storey tall telecommunications tower only 8m from the boundary of his property.

In the early 2000s, Nymboida Shire Council rezoned the village to protect the Nymboida River - as the Clarence Valley's major water source - from being impacted by overpopulation.

The council changed the zoning from what is known as RU5 (village) to RU2 (large acreage properties) to minimise the impact of more houses on the river.

However, in the small rural village of Nymboida, the properties do not fit into the definition of RU2 zoning.

Mr Stockdale's property, which is the old Nymboida Post Office, is smaller than an acre, and so is the proposed site for the tower.

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Telstra towers going up

24 Feb 2018

LOCALS on the Telstra network will have more coverage thanks to two new towers at Stanhope and Undera.

As part of a $12 million project across northern Victoria, capacity and speed upgrades to existing base stations, new small cells for 4G coverage, as well as Telstra’s contribution to the Mobile Black Spot Program will be rolled out.

“We know mobile coverage is a key priority for people and businesses in regional and rural areas,” Telstra area general manager Steve Tinker said.

“In Northern Victoria, this investment includes three projects to upgrade our mobile network in locations such as Stanhope and Strathmerton, installation of small cell technology at three locations including Ruffy and two new greenfield macro base stations including at Undera.

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NBN Co has hundreds of active sites in '5G spectrum'

24 Feb 2018

Sizing the effort to move them.

NBN Co has registered at least 650 fixed wireless sites to operate in what is now prized 5G spectrum, complicating demands by Vodafone for the spectrum to be reallocated for commercial mobile use.

An investigation by iTnews shows for the first time the level of use of the 3.5GHz spectrum that NBN Co was given first right of use over back in 2014.

The 3.5GHz spectrum spans five metro and metro fringe areas and is now extremely valuable, courtesy of auction results in adjacent ranges at the end of last year.

While NBN Co can license the spectrum for $0.03 per MHz per member of the population ($/MHz/pop) in a given area, commercially it is now worth up to 64 times that price.

The huge price growth is due to 3.5GHz emerging as a favoured option worldwide in which to harmonise forthcoming 5G services.

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Phone tower promise only half-delivered

23 Feb 2018

Only half of the promised 34 mobile towers to fix coverage blackspots in the Great Southern region have been built.

Under the Federal Government Mobile Black Spot Program, the Great Southern region was allocated 34 mobile towers over rounds one and two, but only 17 of these towers have been built in the past two years.

The $60 million-a-year black-spot program is design to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes and in small communities.

But under the MBSP’s latest round, only seven WA locations were selected, none of which were in the Great Southern region.

O’Connor MP Rick Wilson said the Federal Government prioritised other electorates in the latest round because of the big investment it had already made in O’Connor in the first two rounds.

“Under round one of the MBSP, 56 towers were allocated to O’Connor, more than any other electorate in Australia,” Mr Wilson said.

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Public comment open on proposed phone tower at Dianella Plaza Shopping Centre

22 Feb 2018

A PROPOSED mobile phone tower at Dianella Plaza Shopping Centre is up for public comment until March 2.

Optus has proposed a 20m monopole with an overall height of 21.6m, located 1.1m from the northern wall of the building and the installation of 21 remote radio units attached to the monopole, a three-bay outdoor cabinet, ancillary equipment and four traffic bollards.

According to a report prepared by network services Service Stream on behalf of Optus, the location was the most preferred because it was considered as appropriate infrastructure in an area removed from community sensitive uses.

The report said the antenna configuration and low power requirements of the proposed tower would mean that electromagnetic energy emissions would be kept below the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency’s limits.

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Telstra Tower proposed for Valley's blackspot town

20 Feb 2018

GETTING calls on your mobile is about to get easier in Nymboida with a proposed Telstra tower.

The new site, at 3797 Armidale Road, is part of the Mobile Black Spot Program. The proposed facility will be a 30-metre-high monopole with six panel antennas and six tower mounted amplifiers mounted on a triangular head frame attached to the top of the monopole, ancillary works including caballing and the reuse of the existing Telstra SCAX shelter to accommodate equipment internally.

Telstra say a new tower at Nymboida was highlighted as a necessity by the Federal and State governments.

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New Mobile Coverage For 13 Communities In Rural Australia

20 Feb 2018

Finally, the mobile black spots in rural Australia are being sorted. Minister for Regional Communications, Senator Bridget McKenzie has announced that 13 new Mobile Black Spot Program mobile base stations will go live soon, providing mobile coverage to regional areas.

The new base stations were constructed across Western Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania.

The improved coverage is made possible through the Federal Government’s $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program, which is delivering much needed improved coverage across Australia.

“I’m committed to ensuring that those living in regional Australia have access to 21st century communication technology and the Mobile Black Spot Program is one way the Government is helping us to get there,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It’s fantastic to see that these communities are now receiving reliable mobile coverage. Our country is vast, and I understand that communities rely on technology to run their businesses, complete their education and connect with their friends and family.

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NBN Co to invest in fixed wireless upgrade

19 Feb 2018

Preparing network to handle more 50Mbps users?

NBN Co has promised to invest in capacity upgrades for its fixed wireless network after coming under fire over its approach to dealing with congestion.

Executive general manager for access products Gavin Williams said in a blog post that the company had seen “a significant spike” in data usage as well as the number of concurrent users in cells in recent months.

“Due to this increase in demand, we will further invest in an upgrade program to expand the capacity of our wireless towers,” Williams said.

“Over the coming months, we will be upgrading a number of our wireless towers to fit them with greater data capacity. Naturally, we will be prioritising areas where users are experiencing congestion.”

The network builder has come under fire after it last week clarified the thresholds it uses to determine whether to take action on a congested cell or sector.

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