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Optus has called for new mobile tower rules as the current rules in place in Australia are unfit for the deployment for 5G networks.

 The second largest telco in the country, Optus, wants the Australian government to oversee the mobile tower rules in order to prepare for the deployment of 5G networks in a consistent and uniform national scheme as it would speed up the process.

On Thursday, the telco published a discussion paper which detailed its arguments on the matter and has also called for other telcos to implement “necessary minor and safe modifications” to existing utility poles in order to add small cells.

“Current deployment rules are governed by multiple tiers of governments, each with differing compensation schemes, zoning and installation exemptions,” said Optus’ VP of Regulatory and Public Affairs, Andrew Sheridan, last week.

He added, “The rules, which were originally designed two decades ago for large infrastructure deployment, do not appear to address some of the practical implementation issues involved in the mass deployment of 5G small cell infrastructure.”

Optus has complained that while the deployment of small cells would normally be considered under low impact exemptions, the heritage laws in place oftentimes applied to poles and other ’non-heritage items’, along with small cells which are deployed in residential areas.

“The issue is whether pole and land owners should be able to profit and delay the deployment of advanced G networks,” said Optus in reference to their having to pay rent to pole owners and land owners.

“We also observe an increasing trend of land owners, utilities and state entities viewing the future deployment of more cells and fibre links as a potential revenue source, rather than as an economic development. Clearly, this situation was not envisaged in 1997 when the legislation was introduced- a regime designed for standalone towers is not suitable for small cells that attach to existing infrastructure.”

Optus noted in its report that it would require changes to be made to the existing infrastructure such as densification and a shift from macro to small cells in order to allows for the “full benefits of 5G” to materialize.

The operator forecasted that the shorter range of 5G spectrum along with the higher capacity would mean that networks will have to expand and deploy almost ten times more sites in dense urban areas.

“The full benefits of 5G will be achieved with densification of the radio access network and the re-design of the network from macro-based to one which primarily uses small cells to deliver the speed and coverage required.”

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