Mobile Phone Sites

To ensure all New Zealanders have access to better value mobile products and services, we have built our own national mobile network which not only provides our customers with great coverage, but also caters for future growth as the demand for smart phones and other mobile devices grows.

Our network

At the heart of our business is a sophisticated network of mobile phone sites located right across New Zealand. These sites are low-powered radio technology which work by transmitting and receiving signals using radio frequency (RF) waves. These have much less power than those used for commercial TV and radio transmissions. The technology used is similar as that used by cordless phones, baby monitors and radio controlled toys.

Site selection

When choosing a location for our equipment, we always try to select and design a site that will have the least amount of impact on the community and the environment.

Providing good network coverage is a key consideration when selecting a site. Sometimes that limits where we can put our equipment because, as a general rule, mobile phone sites need to be near the mobile devices they serve. Wherever possible, we look to co-locate on an existing mobile phone site, build on private land, reserves, industrial areas or commercial land before we look at residential locations. And when we do build there, we do our best to ensure the site fits within the local landscape.

Sometimes we can do that by sharing Council infrastructure (such as light poles) or infrastructure owned by other parties. We also look to use rooftops where we can. Where those options aren’t viable, we may need to install a new stand-alone mobile phone site.

We apply to the local Council under the Resource Management Act (RMA) for approval to build and operate our equipment. When we make an application for resource consent, the Council decides whether the application should be non-notified, limited-notified or publicly notified.

When Council decides a resource consent application is non-notified, we are permitted to start building as long as we meet the conditions of the resource consent. However, we will always advise those in the immediate area at least 20 days prior to work beginning to ensure everyone is informed.

When Council decides an application is limited-notified, a select group of people Council believes could be adversely affected by the application are consulted. Based on the submissions the Council receives, it then decides whether to grant consent.

When a resource consent application is publicly notified, the application is communicated to the wider community in writing and by public notice. Anyone can lodge a submission about a notified application. Based on the feedback the Council receives from the public and other relevant factors, it then decides whether to grant consent.

Under the National Environmental Standard (NES) for Telecommunications Facilities, we may build and manage certain types of mobile phone sites without a resource consent as long as we meet strict criteria around radio frequency emission levels, size, noise and positioning. We send information regarding these criteria to the Council for its approval. In addition, we also work with the Council as owner of the structure we intend to use.

Community Awareness

We are committed to ensuring the community is fully informed of any new sites we intend to install prior to work commencing.

We notify residents and businesses at least 20 working days prior to construction commencing and also advise community groups and other important organisations such as schools and day cares in the immediate area.

Health and Safety

Our equipment is safe and fully complies with the stringent standards set by the New Zealand Ministry of Health. The Ministry specifies the safe radio frequency emissions and exposure standards within which telecommunications companies must operate. These standards are in line with the recommendations made by international authorities including the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the World Health Organisation.

The RF levels around our mobile phone sites are usually less than 1% of the New Zealand Standard. That’s many times lower than common household items like cordless phones. Scientists have been studying the effects of radio waves on people for many years. Thousands of independent studies have been conducted into the effect of radio waves from mobile phones and towers. The consensus of international scientific opinion is that mobile phone sites are safe if operated within approved safety standards.

The National Radiation Laboratory (NRL), says there is no health risk associated with mobile phone sites which are operated within the guidelines recommended by the ICNIRP.

The World Health Organisation states:

"From all evidence accumulated so far, no adverse short – or long – term health effects have been shown to occur from the RF signals produced by base stations."

In February 2014, the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) released a report which outlined no evidence of biological or adverse health effects have been found relating to mobile phone sites. The report concludes 11 years of research and summarises studies completed since an earlier report in 2007.

Professor David Coggon, Chairman of MTHR, said "When the MTHR programme was first set up, there were many scientific uncertainties about possible health risks from mobile phones and related technology. This independent programme is now complete, and despite exhaustive research, we have found no evidence of risks to health from the radio waves produced by mobile phones or their base stations. Thanks to the research conducted within the programme, we can now be much more confident about the safety of modern telecommunications systems."

Read the full report (PDF 2.6 MB).

The National Radiation Laboratory regularly tests mobile phone sites around the country to monitor radio frequency levels and to ensure all mobile network operators continue to meet the relevant standards for radio frequency emissions.

You can find more information at:

Contact us

For further information on our network build programme, call us on 0800 718 000 or