Govt loosens consent rules over cell sites, other telco infrastructure

From New Year, permission will no longer be required from local authorities for frequently-deployed gear that meets national standards.

Changes to the National Environmental Standard (NES) for Telecommunications Facilities will make it quicker and easier for New Zealanders to get connected to new and better communications technologies, the government says.

“From 1 January 2017 network operators will no longer have to apply for resource consent from local authorities to install frequently deployed infrastructure such as small cell units, street cabinets, light pole antennas and cabling that meets the national standard. This national standard will save consumers and ratepayers millions of dollars and is part of our broader package of RMA reforms that take a more nationally consistent approach to environmental regulation,” Environment Minister Nick Smith says. 

(If you're in the tin hat crowd about cell sites, read this or this).

The new NES will make it easier and cheaper to install the infrastructure consumers need to access broadband under the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband Programme, Rural Broadband Initiative and 4G network deployment, Dr Smith says in a joint statement with Communications Minister Amy Adams.

It does not change the radio frequency exposure standards. All new telecommunications infrastructure will continue to need to comply with current standards referenced in the NES, and which are based on international best practice, the pair say.

Telecommunications Users' Association CEO Craig Young tells NBR, "We supported the changes to the NES because they give infrastructure providers very clear guidelines to follow in installing certain types of new equipment where it's already been shown to have little environmental impact. Anything reasonable like this that removes possible unnecessary delays under RMA processes and helps improve competitive access is a positive move in our opinion."

The government is also considering a move to use power line infrastructure to run fibre cable over rural land.

And in June "deemed consent" legislation was introduced to make it easier for Chorus and other companies involved in UFB installations to get permission to lay cable down right-of-ways or into multi-tenant buildings.


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