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Tower funding vital

11 Jan 2018

We’ve been using mobile phones for so long now that there’s plenty who cannot remember a time when we most of us didn’t carry around the gadgets.

In fact, there’s been such a huge market penetration that anyone without one is somewhat of an oddity.

And yet despite that, rural residents continue to suffer the inconvenience of living in black spot zones, of not as such being able to run their businesses effectively because of intermittent coverage.

Major fires in the region, especially the North East, in recent years have also added a more disturbing element to the picture.

That of course is the life and death matter of someone not being able to make a vital call because their phone cannot connect to the network.

All of these examples, but especially the need to make a call in an emergency, are no small matter. It does seem absurd in these times for such problems to persist but they do, though given the flawed roll-out of the nation’s national broadband network it perhaps is of little surprise.

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SUPPORT: Gulaptis wants black spot fixed

11 Jan 2018

CLARENCE MP Chris Gulaptis has come out in support of Ulmarra residents seeking a solution to the notorious Pacific Highway black spot near George St.

"I agree it's a black spot, it's unacceptable and requires more action," Mr Gulaptis said.

"I know the highway will eventually bypass Ulmarra, but we need to address it now."

Mr Gulaptis, who is on leave over the Christmas break, said he had followed the news about the truck accident last week and was disappointed residents' pleas for changes had been ignored for so long.

"Around four to five years ago, I made a request to the RMS to review the southern approach to Ulmarra and they couldn't find a justifi- cation for change," he said.

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Mobile blackspots: Victoria hangs up on Federal Government

11 Jan 2018

EXCLUSIVE: VICTORIA has thumbed its nose at the Federal Government and will go it alone in a bid to improve mobile blackspots.

The State Government will today turn its back on the third round of the Federal Government’s mobile blackspot program, accusing it of funding blackspots based on political interest, rather than need.

Victoria will reallocate the $11 million it planned to invest in the latest funding round to instead fund mobile towers of its choice, in consultation with Emergency Management Victoria, Regional Partnerships and local councils.

The Federal Government opened tenders for a final $60 million round of its mobile blackspot program in November — but, unlike the previous rounds, it selected 109 “priority locations” where towers must be built instead of running a site selection process.

It includes 16 sites in Vic­toria, all in Coalition-held electorates; nationwide, 24 of the 109 locations were in marginal non-Government seats.

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Vic govt quits federal mobile black spot program

11 Jan 2018

The Victorian government says it has “abandoned” the federal mobile program, announcing this morning that it will establish its own program to fund mobile infrastructure in underserved areas.

The state government said that it would spend $11 million originally earmarked for co-investment as part of the federal scheme on its own program.

Victoria has previously committed to co-funding 141 Telstra and Optus cell towers as part of the federal program and in October revealed it had partnered with Optus to help fund the roll out another 25 towers.

Funding for the new state program will be drawn from the $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program contained in the 2017-18 state budget.

The state government argues the current black spot program lacks transparency and that the federal government has failed to “properly consult” on which sites receive funding.

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Entire town loses Optus telephone services

09 Jan 2018

TWO Optus tower outages have caused widespread angst as residents in Evans Head are unable to use their mobile services.

The Northern Star contacted Optus for up-to-date information on the problem and here is what we know:

    Two towers have an outage, one on the Pacific Highway between Woodburn and Broadwater and the other at South Evans Head.
    Services affected include voice and text, internet and email.
    Replacement equipment has been located and is being sent as a priority with technicians to undertake repair work to restore services on Tuesday, January 9.

Since last Friday anyone trying to use their mobile phone in the coastal village has been lucky to receive any texts or phone calls.

Many have only had SOS access only.

Nicole Metcalf of Metcalf's Meats has had their EFTPOS lines disrupted, but said customers have taken the inconvenience in their stride.

"We've got no EFTPOS since Friday before 11am," she said.

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End Of December Update

04 Jan 2018

Telstra ends the year with a bit of a bang trying to keep up with Optus, with 24 new sites and 116 upgrades. New sites were mostly black spot towers in rural areas with WA receiving 10 sites alone, while upgrades focused mostly on 4G2600 in metro east coast cities. 

Optus also keep it stela run with 133 upgrades but only 9 new sites. QLD got the bulk of the new sites with some additional rural coverage QLD also did well with the upgrades receiving 75 alone. I know from personal experience Optus coverage around Brisbane is not that great so hopefully these upgrades will help. Optus is mostly upgrading using 4G2100 which it is reframing from its previous use as a 3G band.

Vodafone managed 4 new sites as well as 37 site upgrades. Site upgrades were almost exclusively metro with 4G2100 being reframed from 3G also.

TPG has nothing to report.

NBN also added 9 new sites as well as 4 new site proposals, as well as 3 site upgrades and 2 proposals for site upgrades. Outer metro areas now seem to be the main focus now for new sites.

The low band 700mhz 4G gap between Optus and Telstra has decreased by 39 sites as Telstra continues to make a dint in Optus' lead. Optus is still ahead of Telstra in 4G700 by 943 sites.

Telstra mobile reception issues in the Camden Haven

04 Jan 2018

Residents in the Camden Haven locations of West Haven, Lakewood, Laurieton, Kendall and Kew are reporting they have little or no Telstra mobile reception.  

Elizabeth and Greg Watson live on Lorne Road at Kendall and say they have limited mobile phone reception to make emergency calls only.

The couple said the issue started on Boxing Day and suspect the Telstra mobile tower might be down due to storm damage.

Close to 200mm of rain was dumped in a highly charged weather system on December 26, 2017.

Widespread power outages were also experienced across the Hastings in the late evening on December 24 when a storm cell brought with it intense thunder and lightning, strong winds and heavy rain.

Elizabeth said there has been no outage reported on the Telstra website.

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Wanganella mobile upgrade

04 Jan 2018

Residents, businesses and visitors in Wanganella are benefiting from new and improved mobile coverage as part of the rollout of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.

Telstra Area General Manger Steve Tinker said it was a ‘‘significant moment for the community of Wanganella’’ which joined more than 250 locations across Australia benefiting from more mobile coverage through Telstra’s delivery of the Mobile Black Spot Program.

‘‘The new mobile base station at Wanganella delivers Telstra’s 3G and state of the art 4GX mobile data services to the region for the first time,’’ he said.

In addition to 577 new mobile base stations, Telstra is continuing to install up to 250 small cells to deliver high speed 4G data services in some small country towns where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available.

Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the completion of the Wanganella tower before Christmas was a great achievement.

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Mobile coverage boost on the way for fire risk towns in Hepburn Shire

04 Jan 2018

Hepburn Shire residents are set to have improved mobile phone coverage in time for next summer’s fire season.

Construction on new Telstra mobile base stations is currently underway at Bullarto and Eganstown. Work at new base stations at Denver and Lyonville is expected to begin later in the year, according to a Telstra spokesperson. 

Funding for improved mobile coverage in Hepburn Shire was announced as part of round one of the federal government’s mobile black spot program, marking the roll out of 499 new mobile base stations across the country over three years from 2015. 

Hepburn Shire Councillor Sebastian Klein said the installation of mobile base towers in the region would be a great relief to communities who have been waiting for mobile coverage for some time. 

“Broadly the consensus these days with the fire safety risk particularly is we are better off having them than not,” Cr Klein said.

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Vodafone loses mobile roaming fight against ACCC

22 Dec 2017

The Federal Court has an rejected an attempt by Vodafone to challenge the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s decision to not introduce a regulated mobile roaming regime.

The ACCC last year launched its inquiry into whether a mobile roaming service should be declared. In May this year the ACCC issued a draft decision to not declare a roaming service; in October it confirmed that decision.

Declaring a mobile roaming service could have forced Telstra to open up its mobile network to rivals on default terms set by the ACCC. Telstra and Optus argued that the decision would have a negative impact on investment in mobile infrastructure in regional areas.

Vodafone filed its application for judicial review after the ACCC handed down its draft decision. Telstra and Optus appeared in court alongside the ACCC to oppose the application.

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