Town to fight internet tower

WALLA residents are trying to stop a 55-metre broadband internet tower being built in the middle of town.

They are preparing a detailed submission on the issue they hope will win Greater Hume Council’s support at its meeting on Wednesday.

The broadband base station would be built by NBN Co near houses around Victoria Street to provide wireless broadband to the town.

Walla businessman Kim Lieschke said people first became aware of the proposal two months ago when a development application was lodged with the council by the company representing NBN Co.

Mr Lieschke is a member of the Walla Walla Community Development Committee which became involved because of residents’ concerns.

“We’ve had a meeting (on January 21) with representatives from NBN,” he said.

“We expressed our concern regarding the location and the size of the tower, which is not small at about 60 metres.”

An NBN Co spokeswoman said the Walla base station provided a crucial line of sight to another station in Culcairn and there was a hill between them.

“There are other constraints on the site including the need to locate reasonably close to town and not too far to the north or south to provide the benchmark level of service required,” she said.

“In the meantime we have been advised that the Greater Hume Shire would like to investigate a fibre network extension.

“This is a policy available to individuals and communities if they are prepared to meet the incremental cost difference between the fixed wireless rollout and the fibre rollout.”

NBN Co had asked the committee to present alternative locations for the $240,000 tower.

Mr Lieschke said NBN Co accepted Walla was “a unique town”.

“There’s no doubt about it when you look at the industry in Walla, and the amount of employment we have,” he said.

“The investigations have led us to believe the wireless network we’re being offered will not be capable of a simple thing like video conferencing.

“Fibre cable is the way to go — that is what we have been trying to achieve.”

Mr Lieschke said he was not aware of any other small town faced with the possibility of a large NBN tower.

“Walla doesn’t want to be known as the tower town. It’s not what the residents of Walla want.”

The spokeswoman said that when NBN Co received an application for a network extension it would need to do a detailed estimate based on actual costs.

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