Coverage of darkness

By Mitch Gaynor

NETWORK upgrades that have disrupted Telstra customers for weeks across the hinterland won’t improve coverage with parts of the region set to continue with sub-par connectivity, it can be revealed.

A Telstra representative finally met with political and business representatives last Friday (June 23) to explain the issues that have plagued the community, costing some retailers thousands of dollars, creating serious safety issues for other business and leaving  residential customers without phone access.

Meeting with Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace and Glasshouse Country Chamber president, Jenny Broderick, the telco’s Regional Engagement Manager said the upgrades were solely designed to allow 5G access and  increase capacity.

The region’s blackspots will not improve, with coverage not factored into the upgrades.

“What this (upgrade) means is that more people will be able to access the network within its existing footprint for events and periods of high mobile traffic,” Mr Wallace said.

“It will not expand that footprint, regrettably.”

He said it appeared the region was set to continue with inadequate coverage across parts of the hinterland.

“We spoke about the significant mobile phone coverage issues confronting Hinterland communities; issues I have raised time and again over many years,” he said.

“At this point, it comes down to the simple matter of economics. Telstra appears unwilling to invest in the construction of additional mobile service towers where it is not financially viable to do so.”

Ms Broderick said it was disappointing that Telstra do not consider Glasshouse Country to be a black spot.

“While increased capacity with 5G may have its advantages, it also comes at a higher cost to our businesses and consumers. This is also an issue we have also raised with Telstra,” she said.

Maleny Chamber is holding a breakfast meeting on July 11 with a Telstra representative to speak on these matters.

Chamber president Spencer Shaw last week wrote to Mr Wallace to express frustration at Telstra’s inadequate service and communication.

“Mobile services are a crucial part of our national infrastructure, and if it is not already the case, it would appear that the onus should be on the Federal Government to legislate that the providers of mobile networks, NBN etc. are required to provide the necessary infrastructure to maintain function of these networks even during service/upgrade periods,” he wrote.

Mr Wallace added that he was continuing to fight for more blackspot funding but added “it’s important to note (Telstra) still provides the vast majority of services available to hinterland communities”.

For businesses affected by the most recent outages, Telstra can assess eligibility for compensation at 13 22 00.

The federal MP has also created a petition: andrewwallacemp.com.au/betterreception/

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