In stark contrast  to the ACEBR/Vodafone/Telstra submissions (see last message) the city of Sydney has expressed very valid concerns over the introduction of 5G in the city. To quote in part from Sydney’s submission #310:


We know, for example that 5G millimetre wave radio spectrum is adversely affected by trees and that other physical assets and this adds a critical reason to collaboratively decide on cell heights and locations. We will not be willing to sacrifice trees in favour of network performance. Similarly, we need to consider the aesthetic and physical impacts of a potentially large volume of physical infrastructure which is located based on network performance only. We must find sustainable ways to advance the use of technology and we can do this only if we are an active part of the decision-making process within our city.


Furthermore, as more users demand more bandwidth then the carriers will see business drivers for deploying a greater density of smaller cells. 5G supports this evolution to smaller cells leveraging the higher spectrum in the millimetre frequency bands allocated for very high bandwidth services in the future. This could see the distance between a single carrier’s cells as small as a hundred metres. With three carriers building networks, the number of cells in the city could be overwhelming.

The low-impact facilities determination did not foresee this density of cells and as such the cumulative effect of many more, smaller cells should now be considered. Very small cells concentrated in CBD’s will have a significant impact on the amenity of the citizens and so must be considered.

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And an excerpt on the issue of trees and 5G from from a July 7, 2019 paper titled: Community concerns over 5G: Needless anxiety or wise precaution?
Don Maisch PhD

Possible effects on trees and foliage
Another possible problem specific to 5G millimetre emissions is that they can be disrupted or blocked by trees and foliage, especially after rain. This creates a potential problem for suburban streetscapes. Will residents have to choose whether they prefer a pleasant green environment or great download speeds?(38)

The potential problem of trees and 5G reception has not escaped Telstra’s notice. To quote from Mike Wright, Telstra’s managing director of networks: “Telstra is also funding research into whether uniquely Australian obstacles – including flora – will disrupt 5G signals, which occupy a higher frequency and don’t travel as far as other mobile signals. “Something that seems to be unique to Australia, and we found with earlier standards, is how gumtrees impact those radio signals and the way they get from the radio tower to the end user”.(39)
In a September 2018 New Zealand court case the judge ruled, in relation to a property owner’s trees blocking a neighbour’s wi-fi reception, that “undue interference with a wi-fi signal caused by trees could constitute an undue interference with
the reasonable use and enjoyment of an applicant’s land for the purposes of s335 (1)(vi) of the {property law} Act.” Lawyer and IT specialist Rick Shera said of the case: “This decision is interesting because it finds that, in some circumstances, neighbour A can require tree trimming, or removal, repair or alteration of a structure, on neighbour B’s land, where the trees or structure unduly interfere with the neighbour A’s wireless connectivity.”(40) As 5G transmissions may be more prone to being blocked by trees than wi-fi signals what will be the legal implications if this turns out to be an issue?

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A complication with trees and a future autonomous vehicle road network, utilizing 5G, was mentioned in a Hobart City Council public forum on 26 June 2019. In a Powerpoint presentation by Will Oakley, representing the Royal Automotive Club of
Tasmania (RACT), he explored a planned future world where the human factor would be taken out of road travel, greatly reducing or eliminating altogether road accidents. This would be a world where we would no longer own a vehicle but whenever one was needed it would be ordered through AI systems such as Siri. When mentioning barriers still to be solved with the autonomous vehicle network, one was the need to not have trees over 4 metres high by the roadside. When questioned on this, the reason was because high trees may interfere with the necessary wireless signals needed to run the network. (41) The question now arises, in a planned Smart future world of autonomous transport, will old fashion tree-lined streets and boulevards become just an anachronism?

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38. Wooding D., “5G TREE THREAT, New 5G phone system could face reception problems from trees with too
many leaves, The Sun, March 18, 2018,

39. Hatch P., ‘Telstra pushes for 5G that Works in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 9, 2017,

40. Keall C., Property owner can be forced to cut trees if they interfere with a neighbour’s Wi-Fi, judge says, New Zealand Herald, September 18,

41. Public meeting, Connected Hobart Public Forum: Help build Hobart’s Future, Presentation by Will Oakley (RACT)-autonomous vehicles, 26 June 2019.


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