Who is delivering the Critical Communications Enhancement Program (CCEP)?
The NSW Telco Authority (Telco Authority) is delivering the CCEP, which is the first step in the NSW Government’s Operational Communication Strategy (OCS). The Telco Authority supports NSW Government agencies that use operational communications for critical and non-critical purposes. They manage the Government Radio Network (GRN) which provides secure, reliable radio communications to more than 30 emergency services, state agencies and corporations and almost 35,000 radio users.
Further information on the OCS
Who can use the GRN and what are the benefits?
The GRN is available for use by NSW Government agencies, essential services. The potential benefits delivered by the GRN include:
• Better management of health and safety risks, particularly for staff working in remote areas with limited radio or mobile phone coverage
• More efficient management of staff (productivity) and equipment (use of resources)
• Improved contributions for incident response and recovery through interoperability and coordination with law enforcement, public safety and essential services agencies
• Cost avoidance and efficiencies from not investing in, and operating, separate agency radio networks
• Improved confidence in the reliability and accessibility of radio services.
How will the enhanced GRN in the pilot region differ from existing agency networks?
The enhancement of the GRN in the pilot region will provide NSW Government agencies with increased coverage and network capacity, availability and resilience designed to meet public safety standards. GRN coverage in the pilot region will increase from around 60 % to over 90 % as a result of the CCEP. This represents a 60 % increase,, or additional 20,000 km2, of in-vehicle radio coverage. Enhancing the GRN coverage in the pilot region will support agencies to more easily share information and coordinate responses to critical incidents.
How many enhanced CCEP sites are in the pilot region?
The CCEP has selected 25 sites for the GRN enhancement in the pilot region. These sites consist of new sites and existing GRN, agency and private carrier co-location sites that will be refreshed or upgraded as part of the program.
Are the sites a mix of existing and new radio sites?
Yes, the 25 shared sites consist of 20 existing sites and five new sites. Of the existing sites in the pilot region, seven are current GRN sites.
How were the sites selected?
Choosing sites is a balance between maximising coverage of radio communications while minimising impacts, such as visual amenity, environmental and local impacts at the site level. The CCEP has conducted technical workshops and utilised data from the state-wide audits of site and radio assets to select the most suitable sites in the pilot region.
Around 80 % of the pilot region sites already have some radio communications infrastructure in place and it is expected that the majority of sites selected will use existing radio towers. In preparing the pilot sites for the enhanced GRN, the CCEP may undertake a variety of site works to vary the type of equipment used, or its size or position within a site.
Optimising existing sites and infrastructure is the first priority of the CCEP. As a result only five new sites will be delivered through the pilot.
How is visual amenity considered in site selection?
The CCEP takes into consideration the potential visual impacts of proposed works and minimises this by:
• Co-locating equipment on existing towers. This is the preferred option, however in some cases it may not be feasible due to the existing tower’s height or structural adequacy to hold additional equipment.
• Co-siting with existing tower – where a new tower is required, this option is undertaken by integrating the new infrastructure with existing vertical elements in the landscape and avoiding the proliferation of towers across the landscape.
What are the development and planning requirements for CCEP?
Under provisions of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007 (ISEPP), the works associated with the CCEP will be classed as either exempt development (clause 116 of ISEPP) or development without consent (clause 114(1) of ISEPP). In effect, this means that proposals do not require development consent from local government and the impacts will be assessed under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). The Telco Authority is both a public authority proponent (section 4 of the EP&A Act) and the determining authority (section 110 of the EP&A Act) for all proposals.
Where a new tower or mast is proposed, impacted stakeholders will be formally notified pursuant to clause 114(2) (a) of ISEPP.
How does the Telco Authority ensure compliance with radio frequency electromagnetic energy (EME) standards?
The Telco Authority complies with the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) Standard. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for regulating RF EME for telecommunications facilities. The Telco Authority complies with the EME regulatory requirements set by the ACMA.
For further information:
What happens to existing radio communications assets that are no longer needed?
Under the CCEP existing radio communications assets owned and operated by NSW Government agencies will be decommissioned if they are no longer operationally or strategically required. It is expected that around half of the remaining sites in the pilot region, which are deemed surplus, will have their infrastructure decommissioned. This represents the final stage of the CCEP and will occur following the delivery of the state-wide program.