Carriers, including NBN Co, have the power to install low-impact facilities without seeking state, territory or local government planning approval. Low-impact facilities are specified in the Telecommunications (Low-impact Facilities) Determination 1997, and include small radiocommunications antennae and dishes that are erected on existing towers and buildings.
In terms of the NBN network, underground and overhead optical fibre installations, Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC) cabling and roadside street cabinets (NBN nodes) may also be considered low-impact facilities.
All low-impact facilities must be installed in accordance with Schedule 3 to the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act) and the Telecommunications Code of Practice 1997 (the Code of Practice).
As part of the NBN rollout, NBN Co will be installing some equipment in local suburban streets. According to NBN Co most of this equipment will be installed underground in pits or on existing power poles. However NBN nodes will form part of the network most visible to local residents.
Each NBN node will house equipment capable of transmitting high-speed broadband signals and will connect between 300 to 400 premises. Although NBN Co uses several types of cabinets, the typical size of an NBN node is 1100 mm (W) x 1200 mm (H) x 500 mm (D) (see image below).
Source: NBN Co
Location of NBN nodes
According to NBN Co most NBN nodes will be installed on the verge (nature strip) adjacent to a property. Located between the edge of the road and the private property boundary (and excluding the footpath and vehicle crossing where one exists), the verge is usually council-owned land.
Note: Property owners are usually responsible for maintaining the nature strip adjoining their land, but they do not own the nature strip.
Objections to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman
As owner of the nature strip, a local council is entitled to object to the proposed installation of an NBN node on certain grounds and within certain timeframes (see Chapter 4, Part 5, Division 4 of the Code of Practice). If the local council and NBN Co are unable to resolve the objection by agreement, the local council can ask NBN Co to refer the matter to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
Where an objection has been referred to the TIO, and the objection is proven valid (upheld), the TIO can direct NBN Co to take specified steps in regards to the NBN node installation. NBN Co must then comply with that TIO direction.
Note: Owners of land adjacent to the nature strip (where the NBN node is/will be installed) have no similar recourse to the TIO. This is because the TIO is only able to consider complaints from owners or occupiers of the land on which the NBN node will be installed.
ACMA’s compliance and enforcement role
Compliance with the Act and the Code of Practice is a carrier licence condition. As the regulator, the ACMA can enforce licence conditions by, for example, issuing directions to carriers, or by initiating court action where there has been a serious breach.
The ACMA can investigate complaints about non-compliance with the Act or the Code of Practice. However, in terms of complaints from owners of land adjacent to the nature strip (where the NBN node is/will be installed), the ACMA would generally only consider whether to investigate a matter:
- After you have raised your concerns with NBN Co in the first instance,
- NBN Co has responded to your concerns and you remain dissatisfied with the response received, and
- You have written to the ACMA detailing each breach allegation (of Schedule 3 to the Act and/or to the Code of Practice) and you have provided supporting evidence accordingly.
Note: The ACMA does not provide a dispute resolution service, or consider objections to proposed installations in the way that the TIO does for owners or occupiers of the land on which a facility was/will be installed. The ACMA will only be able to take compliance and enforcement action in cases where, following an investigation, it is found that a carrier (which includes NBN Co) has breached a carrier licence condition.
Contact the ACMA
For more information, contact:
Australian Communications and Media Authority
PO Box 13112 Law Courts
Melbourne VIC 8010
Phone: 1800 850 115.