Reaching new heights | ACMA

Reaching new heights

Last month, inspectors from the ACMA's Field Operations Section carried out a site audit of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne. Completed in 2006, the tower stands 297 metres tall, making it the third tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere and the fourth tallest residential tower in the world. The 89th floor alone contains more than 168 licensed radio communications services managed by Vertel. Here, the team recounts their journey to the top.

We were met at Eureka Tower's security office by Vertel's Operations Manager, Mr Hannes Naude. The ride to the 89th floor was impressively smooth and fast.

Unlike many radio communications sites where the equipment is hidden away in dimly lit rooms, the Vertel installation was quite the opposite. We walked into what has to be the most impressive radio equipment room in Australia, with spectacular views over Melbourne's CBD and beyond. Four long neat rows of equipment racks housed multiple repeaters, microwave links, trunking and multicoupling systems.

While the scope of a radio communications site audit may contain a broad number of parameters to check, generally field officers will confirm the basics at every site, including the number of repeaters, links, or transmitters and the operating frequency and power output.

The Eureka Tower visit was one of many radio communications site audits our team carries out across Australia. Our experience is that there are anomalies at more than 80 per cent of sites, ranging from small issues such as incorrect geographical location of the sites or no labelling of equipment, to more serious issues of unlicensed equipment being installed, or operating higher power than permitted. Without prompt action from the ACMA, and quick resolution by the licensee, these problems may contribute to interference complaints by other spectrum users.

At the end of each site visit, any issues are noted and then discussed with the licensee with a view to resolve. The ACMA's compliance model begins with education and issuing of advice notices, which then escalates to warning notices, penalties and possible prosecution for more serious breaches of the Radiocommunications Act 1992.

Large communications sites such as Eureka Tower are home to hundreds of radio communications devices, and site audits can take a number of hours to complete. Remote sites in regional areas of Australia are not forgotten either, with our team undertaking routine trips to Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory.

Last updated: 28 March 2013