ACRS Directors report – Mr Peter Lamont
The team at ACRS has been active in recent promoting why you need to be a registered cabler to perform cabling work. ACRS attended the recent CEDIA Conference at Tweed Heads in northern NSW and talked to a lot of interested participants through our trade table display. ACRS has also been active in presenting information for various NECA industry nights across NSW, Queensland and Tasmania. It is important that we continue to make sure that anyone working on data and telecommunications cabling has undertaken the appropriate training and maintained their cabling registration. This way members of the public and business communities can be assured that the work is done correctly, that it is fit-for-purpose and that it is safe.
In October the new Federal Government released it’s first budget. This included reinforcing a number of election initiatives relating to communications as well as commitments previously commenced by the former government.
In particular, the budget provides for a $2.4 billion equity injection over 4 years to expand fibre and enable access to speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second to nearly 10 million homes and businesses by late 2025. This investment will expand full-fibre access to a further 1.5 million premises including over 660,000 premises in regional Australia.
In support for Rural, Regional, Remote and First Nations communities the government also committed to increasing connectivity, bridging the digital divide, improving mobile coverage and supporting communities during natural disasters. This includes $400m to expand regional mobile coverage and improve the resilience of communications systems, some $200 million to improve connectivity in regional, rural and First Nations communities, $30 million over three years to accelerate connectivity for farmers and their machinery, and grow Australia’s agribusiness, $20 million for an independent national audit of mobile coverage to establish an evidence baseline to guide and better target future priorities and $6 million over three years to support better consumer awareness, connectivity literacy and trouble-shooting.
Getting this budget reassurance is an important step in ensuring that our data and telecommunication industry remains a priority industry in assisting both businesses and households to continue to develop and expand as important cogs to Australia’s future economic development. It looks like there will be a lot of work for our data and telecommunications workers.
As we head into the summer season we are also seeing the effects of flooding again this year and the potential for bushfires and cyclones. Now is an important time to make sure that you have done all your planning should you be caught up in a natural disaster in how to get your services back online.
The future with cabling with Category 6A
Category 5 and Category 6 cabling has been around for some time now, but new builds, particularly commercial are seeing the limitations for band with and speed of these categories. As new applications require better cable performance, with drivers such as IoT, Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 7, PoE, smart lighting, building automation, and more, there has been a resultant increase in the uptake of Category 6A cabling.
Why is Category 6A cabling so good. In short is provide 10 times the performance speed at 10Gbps and double the band with at 500 MHz than does Category 6 cabling. Category 6A is best used in building infrastructure such as data centres, health facilities, education facilities and Intelligent buildings.
Mobile phone networks and wireless devices like remote controls, smart TVs, wi-fi routers and laptops use low-level radio waves to send and receive information. Electromagnetic energy, known as EME, is a product of these radio signals.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) sets limits for exposure to EME. These limits are based on extensive scientific analysis and are designed to protect people, so they are set well below levels that are known to cause harm.
EME is all around us and is part of our natural environment. It is emitted by sources like the sun, the earth, the earth’s atmosphere and even the human body.
Telecommunications infrastructure also produces EME, and all mobile phone base stations in Australia must meet Australian standards.
The rollout of 5G
5G is the latest generation of mobile technology. As well as making our smartphones better, 5G allows us to connect almost everyone and everything together, including machines, objects, and devices-everything from smart cities and smart homes, to driverless cars and virtual reality.
The new 5G network currently uses similar radio waves to the 4G network, but in the future will use radio waves at a higher frequency. This will not mean they cause higher levels of exposure to EME.
Higher frequency radio waves are already used in security screening units at airports, police radar guns, remote sensors and in medical devices. These have been tested and found to have no negative impact on human health.
5G is more efficient than previous technologies. The emission levels of 5G equipment are well under the ARPANSA limits.
Australians can now check the levels of electromagnetic energy (EME) being emitted from a selection of mobile base stations in Victoria and New South Wales, with the ACMA’s new online EME Checker. The new tool uses data from measurements completed by the ACMA at these base stations during 2021 and 2022.
With the new EME Checker, people can choose from a dropdown list of locations to view the average and maximum EME recorded at sites that ACMA has measured. You can also compare data across sites and check against ARPANSA limits.
Additional locations will be added to EME Checker as ACMA continues to measure telecommunications sites across Australia.
Proposal to scrap electrical licences condemned
A recent submission to the federal government’s Employment White Paper has caused alarm within the Australian electrical industry.
The submission from the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) controversially calls for the reduction of occupational licensing for electricians and plumbers, labelling both trades as ‘personal services’ that should have the same arrangements as taxi drivers and driving instructors.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has condemned CEDA’s proposal, which the union says will lead to the scrapping of crucial safety checks that protect workers and the public.
“The suggestion that we should scrap licensing in electrical trades is a dangerous thought bubble that needs to be rejected outright,” ETU Acting National Secretary Michael Wright said.
“A skilled workforce performing important safety checks are the backbone of Australia’s licensing systems. It’s no accident that Australia has one of the lowest rates of household electrical fires in the Western world – it’s because we have amongst the highest standards in training for our electrical workers.
“Using the combustible cladding debacle to suggest electrical and plumbing licensing doesn’t work is ridiculous. Winding back safety regulations is a recipe for disaster which puts all of us at risk.
“We’re calling on the federal government to rule out watering down safety standards for electrical trades.”
The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) also warned against CEDA’s recommendation.
“Electrical work can be extremely dangerous and must only be done by a licensed electrician,” said NECA CEO Oliver Judd.
“While NECA supports sensible policies, such as mutual recognition of licences between states, it is ridiculous to suggest that electricians simply provide a ‘personal service’ which doesn’t require extensive training and rigorous licensing.
“Electricians spend four years training to become competent in their trade and to gain their licence to perform electrical work, with many undertaking further post-trade training to enhance their skills. Reducing licensing standards for electricians would put lives at risk and would lead to a race to the bottom in quality and standards. Working with electricity can be very dangerous, causing death and serious injury to Australians each year, and must only be done by licensed electricians.”
CEDA has also called for the Automatic Mutual Recognition of Occupational Registration scheme to be extended across all states. This would mean any electrical worker could work in any state or jurisdiction automatically, without undergoing simple but important safety and verification checks, the ETU said.
“Moving to automatic mutual recognition will erode safety standards and checks which are absolutely crucial for high-risk jobs like electricians,” Wright said.
“What we need is a national licensing system so that we can align the significant differences between states. Automatic mutual recognition exposes workers to massive liability if they fail to understand legal requirements in different jurisdictions.”
Additionally, CEDA wants to review all licensing regulations to see whether online reviews could be used by consumers to assess quality. Licensing would be reduced and the focus shifted towards quality standards under consumer law.
“Safety laws are there for a reason. Any attempt to give consumer law primacy over legislation which is written to save lives is madness,” Wright said.
Judd emphasised that qualifications and training required in Australia are “quite specific and unique”.
“Whilst NECA supports skilled migration, it can only occur under strict licensing and assessment criteria. We must ensure the safety of the community and guarantee our homes and buildings are safe and secure,” Judd said.
“Every day we hear stories of the dangerous work done by people without a licence. As well as putting lives in danger, this undermines confidence in hardworking licensed tradespeople who are qualified to work safely. This report risks exacerbating that trend and misleading the public to believe that anyone can do electrical work, which is simply wrong.”
Festive Season – Tips to reduce stress and anxiety
Stress, anxiety, and depression are common during the festive season. If nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. There are many ways to help stress during this period, e.g.:
- Set your expectations realistically. If certain family members bicker all year long, they will probably do so at Christmas too.
- Avoid known triggers. For example, if politics is a touchy subject in your family, don’t talk about it. If someone brings up the topic, use distraction and quickly move on to something else to talk about.
- Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or focusing on your breath to cope with anxiety or tension.
- Family members involved in after-lunch activities (such as cricket on the back lawn) are less likely to get into arguments.
- Plan for something to do as a group after lunch if necessary.
- People under stress tend to ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. Try to remember that drugs can’t solve problems or alleviate stress in the long term.
Some other ways to keep your stress levels down include:
- Try to be moderate – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful.
- Drink driving is a real danger and is illegal. If you can’t (or don’t want to) step off the social merry-go-round, at least try to eat and drink in moderation.
- Get enough sleep – plan for as many early nights as you can.
- Keep moving – keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.
In support of national Scams Awareness Week and its aim to help Australians spot scams, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed the top five phone scams currently being reported to the agency.
The scam most reported to the ACMA in the last three months has been an Amazon impersonation scam, which sees scammers call to collect people’s personal details under the guise of an issue with their Amazon account. Similar scam calls purporting to be from banks, NBN Co, Telstra and eBay make up the rest of the top five.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the ACMA has had success working closely with telcos to reduce scam calls targeted at their customers, but there was still more to do.
“We have been working hard with the telecommunications industry to get them to stop scams before they reach people,” she said.
Top 5 scam calls
- Amazon impersonation: Scam calls about an issue with your Amazon account. They claim funds will be taken from your account if you do not act immediately by providing personal information.
- Banking/finance impersonation: Scam calls, emails and SMS claiming suspicious activity, unauthorised debits, or that your account has been suspended. They request personal details to verify your identity.
- NBN impersonation: Scam callers posing as someone from technical support. They claim there is a fault with your internet to get access to your computer and personal information.
- Telstra impersonation: Similar to the NBN scam. Callers pose as Telstra technical support and claim you have issues with your service or internet to access your computer and personal information.
- eBay impersonation: Scammers use a recorded message to claim you have made a purchase that requires a charge to your account. This is to get you to provide to personal information.
How to avoid scams
Do not provide your personal information to an unsolicited caller or sender of a message.
Do not open links in any unsolicited messages you receive.
If the brand has an app you can use instead of receiving messages, consider whether this will work for you. Messages you receive via the app are much more likely to be legitimate.
Even if a message slips into a legitimate message stream on your phone, double-check it’s from the brand concerned.
If in doubt, always contact the business via their publicly available contact details (or the details on your regular bill or transaction record) rather than the details provided by the caller or in a message.
Learn more about National Scams Awareness Week – themed ‘how to spot a scam’ – on the Scam watch website .
Scammers target everyone. Learn more about how to protect yourself from phone scams on the ACMA website.
For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or email@example.com.
Has your ACRS registration EXPIRED?
If you are still performing cabling work, then you are required to be registered. It is an offence under the Telecommunications Act 1997, to perform customer cabling work without the appropriate cabler registration.
ACRS sends renewal reminders 4 weeks prior expiry date, via email, SMS, post and overdue reminders are often generated throughout the year.
Many ACRS members have let their registration lapse and working unregistered and illegally.
This could result in insurance claims being denied should something to wrong.
Registration process is easy and cheap. Providing a safety net for cablers and owners of premises where cabling work is performed.
Call the friendly team at ACRS on 1300 667771 who will be pleased to assist you in reinstating your registration.
Have you moved or changed your details?
If you have recently moved, changed email or mobile, please contact ACRS to update your new details. This will ensure you receive you renewal notification and renew your registration on time.
ACRS and the ACMA often receive phone calls from builders and members of the public to confirm registration is valid.
ACRS Staff and Management wishes you a safe and relaxing holiday season full of peace, joy, and happiness with your family and friends.
The ACRS office is closed from Friday 23rdDecember and re opens Monday 9thJanuary 2023.