FAQ

Common Misconceptions

General Questions

 

Wasn't the tower going to be demolished?

No. We have heard reports of people being told that the tower was going to be demolished, typically when looking to move into the area. This is completely inaccurate and misleading. There has never (to the committee's knowledge) been a plan to demolish the tower by any authorities qualified to make the decision. The situation is in fact quite the opposite. There are proposals to place more transmission equipment on the site to introduce many more problems for residents.

There have been committees and groups come and gone, yet still nothing has happened. Why are you any different?

There have been a number of committees in the past, and they have primarily focussed on the telephone interference problem, and have been lobbying Telstra to do something. Telstra are however not the source of our problems, they are in reality a victim just like us. This committee is focussed on the removal of the source of the interference problems, for telephones and all electronic equipment. In addition, this committee completely apolitical and is entirely run by the community, but has retained the knowledge and experience of previous committee members including the former Federal Member for Stirling, Jann McFarlane. We also want to educate the community to the fact that the transmitter is an active site and is regularly the proposed location for new transmitters to cover the Perth metropolitan area. The group has also gained a couple of new members with a large new skill set, providing a buzz not seen in previous groups.

Weren't we getting new phones from Telstra?

The former committee were approaching Telstra to try to get them to provide all affected residents with new phones. This was partially successful with a handful being allocated for this purpose, and a rigorous procedure to try to obtain one of the better phones. Telstra however are as much a victim as we are in this. They did not construct the tower, maintain or have any control over it, yet we blame them for the interference it causes. The interference of the tower goes much further than just phones. It affects everything from our phones, security systems, medical alert systems, power grid, internet and much much more. The only way to truly remove the problem is to remove the tower.

The problem has been here over 23 years and I suppose they have forgotten about it, nothing ever happens with it.

Granted, the tower has been there a long time (The tower is even older than some of the committee members). The technology broadcasting from it (AM radio) is around 100 years old. Most residents think the powers that be aren't bothered with it, it has been forgotten and we are just stuck with the problem forever.

Wrong. The regulator of broadcasting, ACMA, is currently looking at proposals to broadcast a new technology being released for Digital Radio. There are two separate technologies for Digital radio, similar to the difference between AM and FM. The metropolitan area is likely to be covered by transmitters at the existing Bickley transmitter site, however the regional areas are proposed to be broadcast from the Hamersley site. These broadcasts will continue long after AM radio is forgotten, and will cause worse interference problems such as a constant buzz in the telephone. However, following submissions from RIGHT, ACMA have committed to transmitting the new country style digital radio from South West Western Australia.

Isn't it also a receiving station as well?

No

Do I suffer from interference from the Hamersley towers?

Read this guide, and fill out this form, then send to ACMA at the address provided.

Which suburbs are likely to be affected?

If the area surrounding the transmitter towers was flat for a radius of 4.3 km, then this area of 27 km2 exceeds the ACMA’s recommended signal strength of 1,000 mV/m.

The worst affected suburbs are Balga, Hamersley and Balcatta, followed by Girrawheen, Westminster, Gwelup, Carine, and Warwick.

The least affected are Marangaroo, Nollamara, Stirling and Greenwood. Parts of the following suburbs to be included are Mirrabooka, Koondoola, Alexander Heights, Tuart Hill, Osborne Park, Innaloo and Karrinyup.

  • Most affected (within 1.5 km of the tower)
    • Hamersley, Balga, Balcatta, Gwelup
  • 1.5 - 3.0 km away from the tower
    • Warwick, Girrawheen, Westminster, Nollamara, Stirling, Karrinyup
  • 3 - 6 km away from the tower
    • Greenwood, Madley, Darch, Marangaroo, Koondoola, Dianella, Yokine, Osborne Park, Innaloo, North Beach, Carine, Waterman, Marmion, Duncraig, Kingsley

Is the interference repeated in other locations, Are we alone in our suffering?

No, suburbs within the cities below also experience similar interference to our community.

City Site
Adelaide Reynella
Brisbane Bald Hills
Melbourne Delahey
Sydney Prestons

What is the best solution to this problem?

Remove the source of interference by switching off the transmitters.

What will happen to the programs from the ABC of 720 ABC Perth, Radio National and PNN?

So that the listeners can still hear their programs there are two options:

  1. Transmit these programs on FM like ABC FM and JJJ.
  2. Move the AM transmitters to another site.

Where are the radio transmitters for Perth located?

FM Bickley, Walliston & Carmel - All FM Broadcasts
AM

Wanneroo Rd, Hamersley - ABC Radio
Ascot Waters - 882 6PR, 990 Radio for the Print Handicapped, 1080 6IX.
Landsdale - Rete Italia 657

Contrast the options above

FM Add FM transmitters for ABC Local Radio, Radio National and PNN to the same tower that already transmits ABC Classic FM and JJJ
AM The Ascot Waters site is now being built out with large blocks of apartments. This site is much smaller than Hamersley and would be a radiation hazard if such high powered transmitters were added.

Should Bickley residents be concerned?

  1. Firstly the signal is radiated from the top of the tower and aimed at the horizon.
  2. There are no surrounding houses near this tower.

Is there a cancer risk from the Hamersley Towers?

Not unless you are 208 metres tall! The WA Cancer Registry in the Health Department has found there is no higher incidence of cancer in this area as compared to the general population. They used their records from 1983 - 2005

How can I find out more about the radiation risk?

Visit the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Saftey Agency, in particular, their fact sheet entitled "What about Broadcast towers - are there any health effects?"

Who owns the site on which the Hamersley Towers sits?

To quote Parliamentary Hansard:

Communications: Sale of Property

(Question No. 2355)

Ms Jann McFarlane asked the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 9 September 2003:

  1. When was the land that the Hamersley Transmission Tower is located on sold to a non-government company?
  2. What price was it sold for?
  3. Which Minister made the decision to sell the land?
  4. How much do Federal Government agencies pay Broadcast Australia each year for broadcasting services?

Mr Williams—The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The Australian Government’s interest in the Hamersley broadcasting transmission facility and associated land was vested, as part of the National Transmission Network (NTN) sale process, in the National Transmission Company (NTC) on 30 April 1999. Shares in the NTC were then sold later that day in accordance with the National Transmission Network Sale Act 1998.
  2. The NTN assets, as vested in the NTC, were sold in their entirety for $650 million. Prices are not available for individual sites. The current owner of the NTN is Broadcast Australia Pty Limited.
  3. The then Minister for Finance and Administration, the Hon John Fahey MP, was the Minister responsible for managing the sale process.
  4. The Government provides ongoing funding to the ABC and SBS for their transmission services costs. Contracts for new services are let through competitive procurement processes. The ABC and SBS collectively made payments of $132,523,308.62 to Broadcast Australia in 2002-03.” Broadcast Australia, it is the seed asset in the Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group (MCIG) Ltd.

When did they buy it?

The Commonwealth Government sold all the ABC & SBS transmitters to NTL UK in 1999. It was then onsold to Broadcast Australia.

What is the role of Broadcast Australia Ltd?

Broadcast Australia is contracted to supply transmission facilities for the ABC & SBS. This includes television and radio, so includes the ABC FM transmitters in Bickley.

Why is the 720 ABC Perth transmitter so powerful?

It was the first in the state and was soon joined by an equally powerful transmitter in Wagin. The idea was to cover the populated areas of WA with 2 transmitters. Since then Dalwallinu, Busselton and Northam have been added. The limestone soils on the coastal plain absorb AM signals, this is not the case for FM.

Are there any benefits to the ABC in a conversion to FM?

  • Joining the highest rating radio stations in Perth on the FM band.
  • The ability to transmit better quality sound (including Stereo).
  • Allow the audience to hear the quality of their new digital studios in East Perth.
  • Lower transmitter operating costs.

Is the ABC using FM anywhere else?

Most of the ABC network is on FM except capital cities and in WA/SA/Tas. There are at least 152 transmitters with the exception of small community transmitters.. Their highest powered one, in Victoria, covers a 1/3 of the state on its own.

What is Digital Radio?

This is being trialled in Australia at present. There is a pair of competing systems:

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB+) Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM)

Will be broadcast from Bickley and Carmel from 1st May 2009

For more information, visit:

www.digitalradioplus.com.au

www.worlddab.org

This system is likely to be used in country and remote areas. Planning will not start until 2011.

For more information, visit:

www.dbcde.gov.au/media_broadcasting/radio/digital_radio/rollout_of_digital_radio_in_australia

www.drm.org

DRM It can continue to operate unless stopped by us! The addition of the digital signal will add either a continuous buzzing sound to radios and the phone. Patterning to TVs will become more detailed. Being a digital signal, it may also slow internet connections. Following recent submissions by RIGHT, ACMA have indicated that DRM transmitters will be located in the South West of the state.

What is the impact of digital radio on the Hamersley Towers interference problem?

  • DAB It is predicted it will take 20 years for the public to purchase enough receivers to enable the Hamersley transmitters to be switched off. DAB transmitters will be in the Bickley area.
  • DRM It can continue to operate unless stopped by us! The addition of the digital signal will add either a continuous buzzing sound to radios and the phone. Patterning to TVs will become more detailed. Being a digital signal, it may also slow internet connections. Following recent submissions by RIGHT, ACMA have indicated that DRM transmitters will be located in the South West of the state.

When is digital radio likely to start?

1st May 2009

What is the Maximum Field Strength?

“24. A transmitter shall be sited so that not more than 1 per cent of the total population of the licence area reside in areas with received field strengths greater than 1000 mV/m.” ACMA.

Note: Guideline 24 deals with potential interference and/or degradation in receiver performance due to excessive signal levels at the input terminals of the AM radio receiver.

Who gets protection from Interference? (by ACMA)

“27. If the operation of a transmitter causes interference to an AM radio service, the licensee must (at the licensee’s own expense) adjust, or fit devices to, the transmitter or the affected receivers, or undertake other measures in order to eliminate or minimise the interference.

28. For the purpose of application of guideline 27, an AM radio service will be afforded protection against interference if:

  1. operating within the terms of the relevant LAP or transmitter licence conditions, as appropriate; and
  2. is being received within its licence area, national signal reception area or narrowcasting service area, as applicable; and
  3. is being received with median ground wave field strengths equal to, or greater than, the planned minimum field strength.

29. In addition to guidelines 27 and 28 (which relate to AM radio services), a licensee shall, in consultation with affected parties, resolve complaints of interference to other radiocommunication services where that interference is caused by operation of the transmitter pursuant to the licensee's AM radio broadcasting service.

30. A licensee shall, in consultation with affected parties, resolve complaints of interference in areas where the received field strength exceeds 1000 mV/m."

Note: The ABA is obliged to plan for AM broadcasting services in accordance with the Final Acts of the Regional Administrative LF/MF Broadcasting Conference (Regions 1 and 3) Geneva, 1975. Additional or alternative requirements necessary for compliance with the Geneva 75 Plan will be reflected in the LAP or technical conditions of the transmitter licence.

Will TV transmitters SSW3 (GWN) and ABSW 5 (ABC) cause a problem?

Analog Digital
SSW 3 (GWN) SSW 30
ABSW 5 (ABC) ABSW 36
SBS 33 SBS 34
WOW 39 (WIN) WOW 37

Bold indicates transmitters currently on air.

Channel 3 & 5 cover 14 possible high powered FM radio channels. This leaves 11 high powered FM radio channels. These channels are all in use.

To squeeze the 3 programs radiated from Hamersley into the FM band.

It will require some lower powered narrowcasting FM stations to move to some of the 14 channels in common with South West TV. This is inexpensive technically.