JCDecaux and Telstra stunted in ‘21st Century’ payphone rollout again – this time Sydney

The City of Sydney is officially disputing Telstra’s plans to upgrade and relocate payphone units in the Sydney area under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

Tensions between French OOH giant JCDecaux and the City of Sydney continue to rise as the advertising company plans to build new, and upgrade existing, Telstra payphone units within city limits.

The move from JCDecaux and Telstra arrives as a result of the pair’s 2017 deal to upgrade 1860 payphones across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide to “bring the phone box into the 21st Century.”

The new units would be equipped with mobile phone charging ports, digital advertising screens, public transport information, photo booths, interactive digital art, multilingual and disability assistance and a slew of additional functionalities.

Telstra would be intending to install the payphones within city limits using its land access powers under the Telecommunications Act 1997.

The City of Sydney, however, does not see the planned upgrades as necessary, claiming that the new digital advertising panels would not comply with the low-impact facilities (LIF) criteria under the Act.

“The City has sent formal notice to Telstra of our concerns and will await instruction from Council,” says a City of Sydney spokesperson.

“With mobile phone use being ubiquitous nowadays, it is questionable what demand there would be for additional payphones.”

Disputing the claim that the additional payphones would fall outside the purview of the LIF, Telstra says the new units will not be as intrusive as described by the City. “We believe the new payphones are able to be installed in accordance with the Telecommunications (Low Impact Facilities) Determination.”

“In the majority of cases, Telstra is planning to upgrade and relocate existing payphones, not install additional phones.”

The City of Sydney is now waiting for further instruction from the city’s Council

This is not the first instance of governmental dispute for Telstra and JCDecaux’s planned national rollout. Late last month the City of Melbourne said it refused 81 applications for planning permits to display commercial advertising on public phone booths across central Melbourne.

“We have concerns the super-sized phone booths are disrupting footpath traffic and negatively impacting the public realm,” the City of Melbourne commented at the time.

According the City of Melbourne, the companies’ large format payphone advertising display panels stand to cost the city a staggering $2.1 billion in lost productivity.

 

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Image credit:Akshay Chauhan

Josh Loh
BY Josh Loh ON 9 April 2019
Josh Loh is assistant editor at MarketingMag.com.au