Port Fairy tower not coping with heavy demand

TELSTRA has admitted that its phone tower in Port Fairy is failing to meet heavy demand. 

The telecommunications giant was challenged by residents this week at a meeting in Warrnambool — the second hearing of a federal inquiry into the telephone exchange fire that left the south-west in the dark ages. 

But the meeting was used by some to highlight other failings with the provider. 

Port Fairy business owner Doug Maxwell criticised the telco for failing to invest in its Port Fairy infrastructure.

Mr Maxwell, who owns a bed and breakfast business, challenged Telstra regional manager Bill Mundy to provide answers about poor coverage in Port Fairy before and after the exchange fire. 

“We’ve got a base station which is under a significant amount of pressure. We have plans to build another base station outside of town to relieve the load,” Mr Mundy told the hearing. 

Mobile coverage during previous Port Fairy Folk Festivals from both Telstra and Optus Networks has slowed to a snail pace. 

Mr Mundy said Telstra was in talks with the folk festival committee to provide temporary 4G equipment over the festival long weekend, when tens of thousands of people will descend on the town. 

“I agree that we’ve got issues with the existing tower.   We’re certainly putting in temporary infrastructure for the music festival,” he said. 

“With the work we’re doing with the festival committee it will permanently become a piece of equipment that we will return on an annual basis.”

But Mr Maxwell remained unimpressed with efforts to confine improvements to the folk festival weekend. 

“What you are refusing to do is spend the money on upgrading the existing tower to be able to handle the volume of traffic that is going through it from subscribers who have paid Telstra to be able to use it,” Mr Maxwell said. 

“We have been told by Telstra that the tower is hopelessly over subscribed. I feel as a business very let down by Telstra.” 

Mr Mundy said construction of the second tower was still two years away. 

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