A practical guide for working with telecommunications carriers

A practical guide for working with telecommunications carriers

A practical guide for:

  • Building Managers
  • Body Corporate Committees
  • Land owners in Australia

Who are Carriers? – Think: Telstra / Optus / TPG / NBN. Anyone who has a Carrier license6.

This document is intended to pull together a number of sections of the
Telecommunications Act 19971, and present the information in an easy guide
for anyone that needs to work with Carriers with regard to Access issues.

This is not complete legal advice – just a practical guide.

There are references at the end of the document for viewing the relevant
laws Online. It should help co-operation with your carriers, and also help to
avoid running foul of the law.

The Telecommunications Act 1997 has a section (Schedule 3) that gives
Carriers rights of access over common and private property to install and
keep services running for their customers. These rights guarantee that
residents have choices when it comes to choosing their provider and is the
main focus of this guide. The act is Federal and covers anywhere in Australia
and applies to all common or private property.

 

THERE ARE 4 SITUATIONS WHEN THE CARRIER ACT COMES INTO EFFECT

01 A CARRIER ALREADY HAS EQUIPMENT IN A BUILDING
What are their rights to access it?

02 A CARRIER ALREADY HAS EQUIPMENT IN A BUILDING
Can the you remove it?

03 A CARRIER HAS NO EQUIPMENT IN A BUILDING
But wants to install some.

04 A CARRIER HAS NO EQUIPMENT IN A BUILDING
But wants to inspect the building

 

01 A CARRIER ALREADY HAS EQUIPMENT IN OUR BUILDING
WHAT ARE THEIR RIGHTS TO ACCESS IT?

Any carrier that has equipment in a building is entitled to maintain, inspect
and repair their equipment.3

NON-URGENT WORK:
There are 2 mechanisms that are possible to get access:

They ask for permission and access is granted at a time convenient to you
both.

A. They present a LAAN (Land Access Notice) to do the non-urgent work.
B. This LAAN is effectively a ‘demand’ for access. With this method they
are giving a minimum of 10 days notice of their intended work. There is
an objection process that is handled by the TIO2, but for their existing
equipment there are very limited grounds for the objection to be upheld on a
LAAN for these purposes.
The details of the objection process should be on the LAAN.

FOR URGENT WORK:
Carriers have powerful rights in cases of emergency. Having faulty
Telecommunications services can be life threatening, or be hugely inhibiting
the businesses of others.

The government has stepped in make sure there are no barriers to people
getting service. A Carrier that has equipment on a property that urgently
needs work is entitled to access it immediately without notice.4

If you refuse access for urgent works a Carrier can apply to the Federal
court for an urgent access order that will be enforceable by the police – An
urgent Federal court order could be done even in 1 day. If successful in this
instance there will likely be court costs against you.

Just a note about what the definition of urgent and non-urgent work is –
It’s considered urgent by the Carrier if an adequate level of service to their
customers is affected, so this definition is actually quite broad.4
It’s ‘polite’ for a carrier to inform what and why the work is urgent, but it
isn’t compulsory. If in doubt communicate afterwards. It’s best not to have a
confrontation while people are without Internet or phone services, take it up
with the TIO.

02 A CARRIER ALREADY HAS EQUIPMENT IN OUR BUILDING
CAN YOU REMOVE IT?

The short answer is ‘no’ – Only via a federal court can order equipment be
removed.

Remember the Telco Act is designed to protect consumer’s choices of
provider.

Keep in mind how inconvenient it could be if someone decided to turn
off your local Cell-Tower or pull out a whole buildings NBN fibre in the
basement….this could disable lift phones and fire alarms which would be life threatening
for someone.

If you take it upon yourself to interfere with Carriers equipment, they are
committing a Federal offence that carries a up to a 2 year prison term5

03 A CARRIER HAS NO EQUIPMENT IN THE BUILDING
BUT WANTS TO INSTALL SOME

This can seem like an intrusion – but almost certainly you have a number of
Carriers present already, eg NBN and/or Telstra and/or TPG etc.
In most cases, the more Carriers there are – the more choices and price
variety of services your residents have.

There are 2 mechanisms for a Carrier to install new equipment in your
property:
a. They ‘ask nicely’ and get your permission by way of a signed agreement.
b. They serve you a LAAN that details the installation.
This method is very similar to the LAAN as above, if the is no objection to
the prescribed date, then they have a right to install it as planned.
Even if there was an objection to the installation via the TIO, there are only
very specific criteria that this can be done under, and unfortunately ‘I don’t
want it’ is not one of them.

Some Carriers pay rent or power costs for building use , but actually in the
act there is very little obligation on them for this.

04 A CARRIER HAS NO EQUIPMENT IN THE BUILDING
BUT WANTS TO INSPECT OUR BUILDING

This is the same situation as 1 & 3 above –
They can either ask, or present a LAAN for an inspection.

 

REF

01. Telecommunications Act 1997 :
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2017C00179

02. Objections to Land Access Notices:
TIO:http://www.tio.com.au/about-us/policies-and-procedures/objections-to-land-access-activity

03. Maintenance:
Telecommunications Act 1997, Schedule 3, Section 7 Act gives a Carrier the right to maintain
its facilities.

That right includes:
The alteration, removal or repair of the original facility; the provisioning of the original facility
with material or with information (whether in electronic form or otherwise); ensuring the
proper functioning of the original facility; the replacement of the whole or a part of the
original facility in its original location; and the installation of an additional facility in the same
location as the original facility.

04.Urgent Work:
Telecommunications Act 1997, Schedule 3 , Sect17(6)
(b) those activities need to be carried out without delay in order to protect:
(i) the integrity of a telecommunications network or a facility; or
(ii) the health or safety of persons; or
(iii) the environment; or
(iv) property; or
(v) the maintenance of an adequate level of service

05.CRIMINAL CODE ACT 1995 (CTH) Sub-section 474.6
(3) A person is guilty of an offence if:
(a) the person tampers with, or interferes with, a facility owned or operated by:
(i) a carrier; or
(ii) a carriage service provider; or
(iii) a nominated carrier; and
(b) this conduct results in hindering the normal operation of a carriage service supplied by a
carriage service provider.
Penalty: Imprisonment for 2 years.

06.The list of Australia’s licensed carriers:
https://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Telco/Carriers-and-service-providers/Licensing/register-oflicensed-carriers-licensing-i-acma