Carriers 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. Underground and overhead optical fibre installations undertaken by NBN Co are identified as being low-impact facilities. All low-impact facilities must be installed in accordance with theTelecommunications Act 1997 and the Telecommunications Code of Practice 1997.
Facilities such as freestanding mobile phone towers are not classified as low-impact facilities and their installation requires local council approval. However, the determination identifies certain equipment as low impact when it is mounted on existing structures such as buildings, poles or towers. It also classifies an extension of up to five metres on an existing tower as low impact, provided the tower has not previously been extended.
As a carrier, NBN Co is generally able to install a low-impact facility, such as its underground fibre network, without obtaining prior approval from landowners/occupiers. However, NBN Co is required to notify a landowner of its intention to install a low-impact facility. If a landowner or occupier objects to the installation of a low-impact facility, the landowner/occupier can raise the matter first with the carrier. If unable to resolve the matter directly with the carrier, the matter may be referred to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). The TIO may investigate any low-impact facility installation proposal following a complaint from a landowner and can issue a direction to the carrier about the installation. Carriers must comply with any TIO direction.
The ACMA has the power to enforce compliance and may investigate complaints and/or instances of systemic non-compliance by a carrier.