Australian Computer Society

Canberra Branch

G.P.O. Box 446
Canberra A.C.T. 2601
Ph: 06 2474830
Fax: 06 2496419

The Executive Director
National Capital Planning Authority
GPO Box 373
Canberra ACT 2601

cc Press & ACS Offices


Attached is the ACS submission made to the ACT Government proposing telecommunications planning in the ACT Territory Plan. Like the ACT Government’s proposals, the NCPA’s only covers aesthetic considerations of the siting of satellite dishes and telecommunications equipment. The NCPA do not appear to have considered the functional requirements for telecommunications infrastructure.

Access to telecommunications will be of increasing importance to the community in the future. The NCPA’s plans will shape the physical layout of the ACT for decades. Just as we need to plan for roads, water and power we also need to plan for telecommunications. Future need for cabling and space for terrestrial telecommunications facilities, such as communications towers, should be considered. Also planning for satellite antennas needs to be considered.

Use of telecommunications capacity is increasing rapidly. Much of the use for and type of technology is unpredictable. What is certain is that ACT citizens and organisations will need access to the technology, under the ground and through the air.

Without proper planning, Canberra's ability to provide a suitable location for companies could be limited in the future. With some planning we could provide superior telecommunications access at a low cost and attract increased service industry and jobs to Canberra.

Equity in access to telecommunications need also to be considered. If we do not plan for ways to provide access to new technologies, such as optical fibre, there may be prohibitive costs in providing it later.

About the ACS

The Australian Computer Society is the professional association in Australia for those in the computing and information technology fields. It was established in 1966. The Society has over 12,000 members and on a per capita basis is one of the largest computer societies in the world.

Tom Worthington MACS PCP
March 1992




1. The ACT Planning Authority has released a draft Territory Plan.

2. Comments close on 20 March 1992.

3. The plan contains no IT or telecommunications component, apart from aesthetic considerations of the siting of roof-top satellite dishes.

4. Access to telecommunications facilities will be an increasingly important consideration for business and the community in the future.

a. Business will require good access to telecommunications facilities for efficient work.

b. The community will require access to telecommunications for receiving information and entertainment.

c. Just as planning is needed for roads to provide vehicle access to businesses and homes, planning is required for telecommunications access.

d. This planning was previously done in the main by government monopoly providers, such as Australian and Overseas Telecommunications Commission (AOTC).

5. There are now two telecommunications companies for Australia. There may well be more in the future.

6. In some cases businesses are now permitted to provide their own telecommunications infrastructure.

7. Access to private homes for cable television and future services such as high bandwidth data services should also be considered.

8. All of these services need physical planning of access, in the same way roads do.

9. Access needs to be considered underground, by aerial cables, by terrestrial line of site communications and satellite communications.

10. This access is a publicly owned resource which must be planned for best use for the community.

11. Under various planning authorities vehicular access to and in Canberra has been studied in detail. It is proposed that similar studies need to be done for telecommunications.

12. Future telecommunications requirements for a single individual (with a graphical terminal/telephone and video conference facility) may well equal that currently required by an entire office building.

13. Government reforms to telecommunications will be of little value if there is no space in the street to lay the necessary cabling. Intensive use of satellite dishes will be of no use if they cause mutual interference or are blocked by new building development. Opportunities for growth of Canberra will occur if we can provide good quality, low cost access to telecommunications.


1. Principle of access for all classes of urban development (commercial, industrial, community and domestic) to telecommunications infrastructure.

2. Planning of land use for telecommunications in a similar way to roads. Consideration would be given to high speed interstate access, inter-town access and local urban feeder services.

3. Planning for equal access by multiple telecommunications carriers and private users Sufficient space would be made available for expected future expansion in services. Situations were a single organisation has a monopoly on available access should be avoided.

4. Planning for common use community facilities In a similar way to community parking and bus interchange facilities, provision should be made for community aggregation of telecommunications. This would include "teleports" and communications towers.

a. Teleports are areas of land set aside for locating multiple satellite antennas. By locating these together services such as power and security can be shared by multiple users. Teleports can be placed to fit into the landscape, rather than having antennas dotted across the landscape.

b. Communications towers are used for line of site microwave (and in the future laser) communications and for radio broadcasting. The most conspicuous example in Canberra is the tower on Black Mountain owned by AOTC. Expanded, future and competitive telecommunications may require further towers with similar functions (but not necessarily as conspicuously designed and placed as the Black Mountain Tower).

5. One recent example of new requirements arising has been the introduction of cellular mobile telephones. Many urban locations in our larger cities now have large and not particularly attractive base station antennas for ATOC's "Mobile-Net" service. A new generation of mobile telephone technology is to be introduced in the next few years by at least two different companies. These will require many more base station antenna locations.


1. Teleport for civic and each town centre A space should be set aside adjacent to each town centre for satellite facilities. The location will have to balance the need to be close to the town centre, but separated from it for aesthetic and technical reasons. The teleport need not be at ground level (for example the roof of the Belconnen Mall or of the water reservoirs located on hills around Canberra could be used).

2. Small communications towers on strategic hills To avoid another structure with the prominence of Black Mountain Tower, smaller towers could be located on selected hills around Canberra. These would link individual buildings with each other, with the teleports and with national terrestrial links. These structures need be no more conspicuous than the survey and navigation markers currently located on the hills around Canberra.

3. One suitable location would be Mount Ainslie. The Civic teleport could be located on the North Eastern side of Mount Ainslie (out of site of Parliament House and most of Canberra). A communications tower would replace the current navigation beacon and connect civic to the teleport by microwave and laser links.

4. Planned access for communications to buildings Proposals for development of land should include provision for access to communications, for the current and future users. This would be similar to requirements for sufficient vehicular access. It should be assumed that dwellings will require cabling for multiple services (including cable television) from competing suppliers. It should be assumed that competing carriers will wish to provide cabling to commercial premises and owners may wish to lay private cabling to other buildings.

5. Access to line-of site access to geo-synchronous orbit from commercial buildings should be a consideration in planning the siting of buildings A building owner should have a reasonable expectation that their satellite antenna will not be blocked by later buildings. This may not be required where adequate provision has been made for access to a teleport.

6. Inter-town rights of way Provision should be made for sub-surface, surface and line of site rights of way between major ACT locations, including commercial and industrial centres. Sufficient capacity to be planned for multiple carriers and private users.

7. This will avoid the situation in other countries where new telecommunications carriers have had to lay cables through disused water pipes, because a rival company owned all existing rights of way. Existing suitable paths, such as the Tuggeranong Parkway, would have space reserved for cabling. Canberra's extensive network of bicycle paths may also be useful for locating cabling.

See also: Draft ACT Telecommunications Plan

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