nbn takes the Sunshine Coast Regional Council to court

Over disagreement on nbn fixed wireless base station development

The company behind the National Broadband Network, nbn, is taking the Sunshine Coast Regional Council to court, following a disagreement over fixed wireless development issues.

On 17 February, the case sat on the Supreme and District Courts Brisbane listing, with nbn confirming the dispute with ARN.

"In mid-2016, Sunshine Coast Regional Council refused three nbn fixed wireless development applications for Beerwah, Mt Ngungun and Eudlo.

“nbn subsequently lodged appeals against these refusals in the Planning and Environment Court and the appeals process is ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

ARN understands that the Beerwah, Mt Ngungun and Eudlo areas are mountainous, and that the base stations have to be strategically placed to be in a physical line of sight.

But with the land belonging to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, it didn’t agree with nbn to place the towers in those specific locations.

ARN also understands that this is not an unusual case, with similar occurrences happening with other councils in the past.

In December last year, residents in Coorabell (near Byron Bay, New South Wales) were given assistance from the Byron Shire Council as they opposed to an nbn tower close to their homes.

They all voted unanimously, requesting that the tower’s construction be stopped until nbn proves all the requirements around the approval process are met.

In the case of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, there are 12 fixed wireless facilities servicing 3065 premises already operational on the coast, with another two currently in build. A further 24 sites affecting 31 communities are still yet to be approved.

In addition,more than 63,000 premises are ready for service in the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, with a further 31,000 premises currently under construction.

“It has been two years since nbn first starting planning in these areas and 18 months since the application for the fixed wireless facility at Beerwah was first lodged.

“Under the original plans the three refused fixed wireless facilities would have been ready for service in November last year,” the nbn spokesperson added.

nbn CEO, Bill Morrow, previously said that as the company accelerates the rate of its rollout, the new push would come with fresh problems.

“We understand there will be some disruption for residents and business owners as the 14,000 people working across nbn and our delivery partners complete the task as soon as possible,” he said then.

In terms of the rollout, nbn revealed on 18 January, that it expects the network to be 50 per cent complete by the end of June this year, with the 2020 completion target still in the company’s sights.

“By 30 June 2017, nbn is targeting a total footprint of 5.4 million homes and businesses,” the company said then. “The network build is accelerating, with 277,000 homes added to the footprint last month [December, 2016] alone.

“The number of people able to connect will expand to 9 million homes by June 2018, with the end of the rollout then in sight,” it added then.

On 9 February, Morrow flagged the need for more of the network’s end customers to take up its higher-speed products if it is to meet its 2020 revenue target.

But, on 20 February, the Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) questioned the critical infrastructure of the NBN, refuting claims that demand for high-speed broadband is low and branding NBN messaging as “alarmingly inconsistent”.

nbn has also recently outlined new disconnection dates for businesses to move their integrated communication systems over to the network and changed the pricing model of its Connectivity Virtual Circuit (CVC) charge to calculate a discount based on individual retailer averages, as opposed to an industry average.