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

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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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These Are 3 Of The Worst EVs Of All Time

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If you walk into any Chevrolet dealership today, you are more than likely to see a few Chevy Sparks on the lot. The current model is equipped with a 1.4L four-cylinder engine that puts out a grand total of 98 horsepower. It’s Chevy’s cheapest car at just under $14,000 and offers features like CarPlay standard. Until recently, some new Sparks could be configured with manual crank windows — truly innovative.

Back in 2013, General Motors made an all-electric version of the Spark to comply with California’s (new at the time) emissions regulations (via Green Car Reports). The result was a less than valiant effort. Its motors were assembled just outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and shipped all the way to GM’s operations in South Korea for production.

For specs, the Spark wasn’t weak at 140 horsepower and over 300 foot-pounds of torque, but it only had a realistic range of about 80 miles, and it took more than seven hours to charge without a fast charger. An Edmunds review of the 2016 model noted that charging from a 110-volt outlet took over 20 hours for a full battery. To make matters worse, Spark EVs in the United States were only offered in Oregon, California and Maryland, according to Edmunds. 

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Which Is The Better Electric Car?

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If you prioritize acceleration, battery range, and self-driving technology, the Tesla Model 3 is the clear winner. However, the Polestar 2 comes on top if you consider comfort and interior quality. Besides that, the Polestar 2 is a hatchback with hints of a premium Volvo and the Tesla Model 3 is a sedan similar to the Model S — but smaller.

As for the price, the 2023 Polestar 2 starts at $48,800. If you’re buying the 2022 model, it will cost you about $2,500 less than the 2023 model. But if you want the 2023 Long Range Dual Motor trim, it will cost you about $51,900. The biggest improvement of the 2023 Polestar 2 over the 2022 model year is the 11 miles of extra range on the Long Range Dual Motor variant.

The Tesla Model 3 Rear-Wheel Drive starts at $46,990, while the Long-Range trim is sold at $54,490. The Tesla Model 3 Performance is the most expensive trim at $61,990. But with the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, the Tesla Model 3 will become eligible for the $7,500 tax credit starting January 1, 2023 — although only the trims that are sold for less than $55,000 will be considered.

Unless Volvo builds the Polestar 2 in the U.S., it won’t qualify for the new tax incentive under the Inflation Reduction Act. However, we know Volvo is building an electric SUV in the U.S., and it will be known as the Polestar 3. 

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Google Stadia Shutdown Took Employees, Game Devs By Surprise

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Video game designer and founding member of multiple game studios, Rebecca Heineman shared on Twitter that her company was lined up for a Stadia game release on the first day of November, but instead got heartbreak. Indie developer Simon Roth mentioned that neither did he receive any warning in advance from Google, nor did the Stadia division reach out to him via email or phone well after the news broke out.

But it was not just indie developers that Google kept in the dark. Even heavyweights like Bungie, which brought users “Halo” and “Destiny” games, were apparently unaware of the Stadia bombshell dropping out of nowhere. Plaion, which owns multiple publishing units and ten game studios, also pointed out that it wasn’t informed in advance. Publishers Goldfire Studios and No More Robots told Kotaku that they each had a game coming out on Stadia next year.

Pixel Games shared that it finalized the deal to bring no less than three games over to Google’s cloud gaming service just a day earlier. Google, on the other hand, is reportedly working with the affected studios with schemes like reimbursing the costs of development and porting existing games to its platform. According to an Axios report, Stadia reps are reaching out to publishing and development partners with reimbursement deals.

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