Fires highlight mobile coverage issues

GARVOC is one of many south-west towns in need of an upgrade to mobile phone coverage, its community association says.

Adam Bellman, secretary of Garvoc District Residents Incorporated, said residents in the town could not make or receive phone calls during the St Patrick’s Day fires.

“The reception is pretty ordinary, it’s pretty patchy,” Mr Bellman said.

The issue is set to be addressed under a plan to improve telecommunications in regional Australia, according to Bridget McKenzie, the Minister for Regional Communications.

Coverage will be improved through an investment of $25 million under the Coalition’s Mobile Black Spot Program.

Ms McKenzie said the latest round would ensure regional Australians were not left behind.

“As a regional Australian myself, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits that reliable mobile connectivity can bring to our communities and how it enables them to fully participate in the digital world and contribute to Australia’s economic growth,” she said.

“This new round demonstrates the Coalition’s commitment to ensure regional Australians have access to 21st century communications.

“We are doing this by investing in areas overlooked by mobile network operators due to commercial reasons.”

Ms McKenzie said mobile carriers would be asked to submit applications for funding after seeking input from community members.

Member for Wannon Dan Tehan has been pushing for better mobile phone coverage, particularly after the devastating St Patrick’s Day bushfires.

He said constituents had raised concerns with him about the need for improved infrastructure in the region.