Telstra has received a formal warning from the communications watchdog for building a base station on top of a government office without consulting affected parties.

The Australian reports the telco is also being investigated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in a separate incident related to it blocking international roaming on the Vodafone sim cards used in AGL’s smart energy metres.

In July last year Telstra installed mobile phone infrastructure on a roof in Canberra at a building which houses the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, among other businesses.

Under the telecommunications industry code applicable at the time (it has since been updated but retains similar requirements) Telstra was required to consult with all interested and affected parties, including residents of the building before building new infrastructure. According to a now completed ACMA investigation the telco failed to do that and also ignored a complaint about the installation. ACMA has issued Telstra a formal warning over the matter.

“There is public concern about the roll-out of mobile infrastructure, including small cell base stations, in residential areas,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“Telcos must keep affected communities in the loop and consider their feedback when establishing or upgrading mobile phone base stations.”

A Telstra spokesperson told Which-50 the company must do better in the future.

“Consulting with local communities on new mobile towers is an important step in expanding our coverage and we didn’t get that right this time,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ve looked at where we fell short of what’s expected and we’ll make sure we get it right next time.”

Telstra has been rapidly rolling out 5G infrastructure over the last 18 months, starting with capital cities including Canberra. But the Telstra spokesperson said the tower in question is used for 4G.

AGL dispute

The Australian is reporting Telstra is the subject of an ACCC probe in a separate incident for its role in blocking the international roaming capabilities of international sim cards used in machine-to-machine devices.

The competition regulator is reportedly examining allegations that Telstra told energy giant AGL it would block the roaming capabilities of its Vodafone issued sim cards which are being used in its smart metres.

The international roaming is required to link the IoT devices with a central database. If the reports are correct the case could prove important in the emerging Internet of Things market, where telcos see growing business.

The ACCC will likely investigate if Telstra is abusing its dominant position by effectively blocking Vodafone from the market.

Which-50 has contacted the ACCC but it can not confirm or deny any potential or ongoing investigations.

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