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Optus wants new mobile tower rules to steam roll obstinate councils and owners

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Ericsson’s Strand-Mount Unit


(Image: Ericsson)

Singtel-owned Australian telco Optus has called for rule changes that would compress Australia’s three layers of government overseeing mobile tower deployments into a consistent, uniform national scheme that would speed up the rollout of 5G.

To that end, the telco released a discussion paper on Friday that details its arguments, and also calls for telcos to be able to make “necessary minor and safe modifications” to utility poles already in place in order to add small cells.

“Current deployment rules are governed by multiple tiers of governments, each with differing compensation schemes, zoning and installation exemptions,” Optus vice-president of regulatory and public affairs Andrew Sheridan said last week.

“The rules, which were originally designed two decades ago for large infrastructure deployment, do not appear to address some of the practical implementation issues involved in the mass deployment of 5G small cell infrastructure.”

While the deployment of small cells would usually fall under low impact exemptions, Optus complained that heritage laws sometimes applied to poles and what it called “non-heritage items”, as well as to small cells deployed in residential areas.

The telco added that it often has to pay rent to pole owners, as well as to land owners upon which the pole is located.

“The issue is whether pole and land owners should be able to profit and delay the deployment of advanced 5G networks,” Optus said.

“We also observe an increasing trend of land owners, utilities and state entities viewing the future deployment of more cells and fibre links as a potential revenue source, rather than as an economic development.

“Clearly, this situation was not envisaged in 1997 when the legislation was introduced — a regime designed for stand-alone towers is not suitable for small cells that attach to existing infrastructure.”

Optus did concede though, the sort of economic benefits that 5G proponents push are due to happen with the deployment of standalone 5G. Networks such as those in South Korea are using non-standalone 5G, which lowers cost, but uses a 4G core.

Initially, small cells would be used to fill coverage gaps, Optus said in its paper.

“The full benefits of 5G will be achieved with densification of the [radio access network and the re-design of the network from macro-based to one which primarily uses small cells to deliver the speed and coverage required,” it said.

“In urban areas, this means potentially 10 times more urban sites will be required.”

Tower placement sees Labor refer matter to ANAO

On Monday morning, Labor said it had referred a matter regarding the placement of a mobile tower in the southern New England region to the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

Over the weekend, Nine media reported a tower was placed at Kingstown on the property of mining magnate Gina Rinehart, despite the local community arguing for another site.

It is reported that locals said after two weeks of operation, the tower’s service has been non-existent a couple of kilometres away from it, even though it is meant to provide emergency services to the district. Federal local member Barnaby Joyce reportedly said the site of the tower was chosen by Telstra.

Rinehart is paid rent for the tower, which falls under the federal government’s mobile blackspots program.

“The actions of the Member for New England suggest the Coalition is more concerned with their own interests, rather than making a genuine attempt to improve mobile coverage in regional Australia,” Labor’s Shadow Minister for Regional Communications Stephen Jones said in a statement on Monday.

A September 2016 audit by the ANAO into the blackspots program said the Department of Communications had erred in its selection criteria and ability to evaluate impact and cost effectiveness.

Specifically, ANAO said at the time, the department’s selection criteria: Allowed for the expansion and improvement of existing coverage, rather than providing coverage to areas with no mobile access; did not have methodologies for assessing the technical and financial aspects of proposals, especially in regards to applicant costings; and said the department did not have a sufficient capacity to assess the impact and cost effectiveness of the program, because there was no evaluation framework formed beforehand.

“The department’s assessment of applicant costings for proposed base stations lacked sufficient rigour,” the ANAO report said.

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Alpha Motors Superwolf is a completely decked out electric pickup

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Alpha Motors unveiled a new version of its all-electric pickup called the Superwolf. The difference between this particular version of the truck and the ones that have been shown before is that the Superwolf is completely decked out with all sorts of accessories you might expect to find only on the aftermarket. One of the more interesting accessories seen on the truck is tube doors similar to what you commonly see on Jeeps.

Superwolf also has custom KMC wheels with large off-road tires, a custom front bumper with tow rings and skid plates, as well as a complete roof rack featuring an LED light bar and large locking case. In the bed of the truck is a rack that adds more style to the truck and supports the roof basket.

Under the doors are also compact step rails that look like they are intended to protect the vehicle’s body while off-roading. The truck also features wide fender flares and looks fantastic in general. Other interesting features of the truck include a bed cover that appears to be made out of aluminum and a rack that spans the bed allowing for items to be attached on top of the bed itself.

Several other accessories are available for the truck, including a bed extension and more. Other than the accessories, Superwolf features a driving range of up to 300 miles per charge. It has two motors for four-wheel drive and can reach 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. The truck has a tow rating of 6724 pounds and features a rapid charger with battery cooling and heating.

The truck’s interior can hold four passengers and has a digital display for the driver along with the wide-format center display. Bluetooth connectivity and premium sound are also featured. Superwolf can be reserved now with a starting MSRP listed at between $48,000 and $56,000.

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Classic 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am racer heads to auction

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When it comes to muscle cars of the 60s, one of the most iconic is the Chevrolet Camaro. The value of a normal Chevrolet Camaro from the era is often very high. The value of this 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans Am is even higher as it’s an actual successful racing car from the era. This vehicle is the first of six Sunoco Trans Am Camaros that Penske Racing built.

This particular car has an extensive racing history with drivers Mark Donohue and George Follmer behind the wheel. The car has been completely restored by Kevin McKay in its iconic Sunoco racing livery. The car is said to be one of the most significant Chevrolet-powered racing cars ever built. Because of its rarity and racing pedigree, the car is expected to bring as much as $2 million at auction in Pebble Beach.

The car features a 302 cubic inch overhead valve V-8 engine and a single four-barrel carburetor. It’s estimated to produce 450 horsepower and has a four-speed manual gearbox along with four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. The front suspension is independent wishbone with coil springs, while the rear has a live axle with leaf springs, a setup common in the era.

The racing series the car was built for required a 302 cubic-inch engine. The Z/28 was born due to the need to produce examples for homologation. The Z/28 became the Camaro performance production model, with 602 examples being built in 1967. The first 25 of those cars off the assembly line were sent to racers. This particular car was the 14th produced and was sent to Roger Penske.

This car is the first of only six Penske Camaros built between 1967 and 1969. The auction house says that over $330,000 was spent to restore the iconic car completely. The car comes with a file documenting its extensive racing history and photos of the car as it was discovered and during its restoration.

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VW Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept has 300HP under the hood

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We all know the VW Atlas Cross Sport as a five-seat version of the Atlas SUV. But as the German automaker unveiled its Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept, we’re pretty much convinced it has the gravitas to trounce other sporty crossovers like the Mazda CX-5 and Infiniti QX50.

The concept starts with a range-topping Atlas Cross Sport SEL Premium R-Line version with a 3.6-liter V6 engine, race-inspired R-Line exterior styling, and standard all-wheel-drive. But instead of having a V6, the folks at Volkswagen Chattanooga gave the concept a modified EA888 motor from the VW Golf R. It also gets a new front-mounted radiator (from the Mk7 Golf R) and a new IS38 turbocharger.

Pumping out no less than 300 horsepower, the 2.0-liter mill sends the grunt to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Mind you, the 2.0-liter four-banger produces more power and torque than the stock V6 motor while being lighter, too.

“The launch of the all-new Golf GTI and Golf R got us thinking about how to inject some of that VW magic into our SUVs,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. It seems VW started it right by giving the concept a properly sporting engine. If you’re wondering, the Mk8 VW Golf R is the most powerful Golf ever made. It has 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque from its high-strung EA88 2.0-liter four-banger.

But Volkswagen didn’t do it alone. It sought the help of long-time VW collector and professional auto builder Jamie Orr in dressing up the Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept. If you remember, Orr also created the Tiguan SE R-Line Black RiNo concept, a lowered and dressed-up Tiguan with a Thule bike rack. It also came with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 184 horsepower.

After lobbying for the Golf R’s 300 plus-horsepower engine, Orr gave the concept four Recaro Sportster CS sports seats in place of the usual five-seat configuration. After painting the entire thing in striking Kingfisher Blue paint, the Atlas Cross Sport GT concept received gloss black exterior trim, GT badging, and a set of magnificent 22-inch ABT Sport HR aero wheels wrapped in Yokohama Advan Sport V105 ultra-high-performance tires.

Underneath, the concept has ST XTA Plus 3 coilover suspension with GT-concept springs and TAROX eight-piston front brakes. Those wheels not only look incredible, but it enhances the crossover’s ground-hugging vibe. “This concept is proof that it’s possible to build SUVs that could appeal to our performance enthusiast base,” added Keogh.

Meanwhile, the interior has custom Eisvogelblau blue trim and non-animal-based materials. The Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept may be a one-off, but it’s one of the best-looking and most desirable production-based concepts we’ve seen in a while.

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport GT Concept Gallery

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