Telecom seeks cellsite expansion in Auckland

Telco seeks designations to increase height of cell towers

Telecom has lodged notices of requirement for 14 Auckland cell sites with the Auckland Council.

Telecom owns the sites, but needs to seek designation for them. A designation authorises the requiring authority – in this case Telecom – to undertake work or projects on the site without the need for land-use consent.

Future work at the 14 sites will include upgrades, maintenance and replacement of equipment and other work required for Telecom, to keep providing telecommunications services, according to the notice of requirement documents.

“Current planned works for exchanges within the Auckland isthmus includes, but is not limited to, replacing DC power plant, batteries, standby plant, replacing, upgrading and installing new air conditioning units, new and replacement diesel tanks (ranging from 1500L to 10,000L tanks),” say the documents.

Co-location work is planned at six of the sites, involving putting in new power feeds and footplates for the new DSLAMs (digital subscriber line access multiplexer) that other telecommunications providers want to place in the exchanges.

Antennas located on the exchange sites will be continually upgraded and reconfigured in order to “meet evolving technology and customer demand”, Telecom’s documents state.

The documents cover mast height limits for any new masts built, but there seems to be no limit for how many masts and antennas there can be on each site.

“We typically have no more than one mast at a suburban exchange site because of the economics involved and naturally our aim is to utilise any existing investment as efficiently as possible,” says Chorus marketing communications manager Brett Jackson. “However, there may be instances where network demands and co-location needs require additional infrastructure. In these cases we’d be guided by environmental considerations, for example view shafts, and the council’s District Plan or other council processes that apply.”

The documents state any new masts built are limited to one metre in diameter for any parts that are eight metres above ground.

“The request for designations relates to maintenance work Chorus is planning at 14 existing exchange sites in the wider Auckland area,” says Jackson.

The maintenance programme is for air-conditioning, back-up power upgrades and building internal storage space for customers’ telecommunications equipment, he says.

“[This is] basically the time-to-time stuff we do for our exchange buildings. Rather than seeking resource consents for each activity – for example air conditioning installation – we are requesting a designation from council so planned work goes through a council review process in the first instance,” Jackson says.

Telecom did not respond when asked if it was preparing the sites for a new 4G network.

The sites are the Avondale exchange on 6 Jude Street; the Blockhouse Bay exchange at 135 Boundary Road; the Ellerslie exchange at 1 Kalmia Street; the Glendowie exchange on 168B St Heliers Bay Road; the Mt Albert exchange on 737 New North Road; the Mt Eden exchange on 2B Poronui Street; the Mt Roskill exchange on 2 Jasper Ave; the Onehunga exchange on 58 Princes Street; the Otahuhu exchange on 12 Piki Thompson Way; the Panmure exchange on 4-6 Stewart Ave; the St Heliers exchange on 402 St Johns Road; the Ponsonby exchange on 4 Summer Street; the Three Kings exchange on 587-589 Mt Albert Road; and the Remuera exchange on 2A Dilworth Ave.

Examples of some of the more extensive changes that may occur include the possibility of building a 20-metre mast at the Avondale exchange. The current mast is 16 metres high.

Telecom is proposing that any new masts at the Ponsonby exchange will be limited to 15 metres, while the current mast is 10 metres high. The designations would also allow for building 20-metre masts at the Ellerslie and the Mt Roskill exchanges; 15-metre masts at the Glendowie and Three Kings exchanges; and nine-metre masts at the Panmure and Remuera exchanges.

These sites are mast-less today. However, the exchange building at the Remuera site has panel antennas mounted on the roof, reaching about 13 metres off the ground, the documents state.

Any new noise-generating equipment at the cell sites will not exceed 50 dBA 7am-10pm and 40 dBA from 10pm to 7am in residential areas. Where the sites are in business zones noise will not exceed 55 dBA from 7am to 10pm, and 45 dBA 10pm to 7am, according to the documents.

All 14 sites were previously designated under the Auckland District Scheme prior to the local government merger in 1989.

“However for reasons that are unclear, the roll-over of this designation into the current Auckland District Isthmus Plan did not occur,” the notice of requirement documents states. The opportunity for public submissions on the changes closes today.

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