Emergency services to benefit from simpler regulation of portable mobile phone towers

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday November 27, 2019

A Cell on Wheels system manufactured by ICS Industries. http://www.icsindustries.com.au/

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says emergency services around the country will be a key beneficiary of the federal government’s plans to make it quicker and easier for telcos to deploy portable mobile phone towers.

Temporary mobile coverage is obviously useful for more than just emergencies and natural disasters, although that use case is the minister’s favourite, but there are also tight controls on where network operators can set it up and on the type, size and even the colour of the portable base stations they deploy.

The minister says a set of proposed regulatory changes aim to “provide greater certainty that mobile carriers will be able to deploy temporary towers in an emergency” and is taking public comments on the exact drafting of two legal instruments until December 20.

“Reliable telecommunications services are vital for our emergency service organisations to effectively respond to a critical event or natural disaster,” Fletcher said.

“With an early and intense start to the fire season this year, mobile carriers have rolled out a number of temporary facilities to provide critical communications services to our firefighters and affected communities.”

The government’s regulatory updates give the minister the power to declare temporary certain pieces of temporary mobile service equipment as “low-impact facilities” in several circumstances.

Beyond emergencies and natural disasters, this will also make it easier for telcos to deploy portable cell towers for major events, peak holiday periods, and when their permanent ones are being repaired or replaced.

“This will ultimately mean that carriers are able to restore, and secure the delivery of essential telecommunications services quickly and efficiently in times of emergency,” Fletcher said.

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