COLAC region residents have reported more than 130 mobile phone black spots, hoping the Federal Government will choose their area for a new mobile base station.
Birregurra and Gellibrand River, which Corangamite MP Sarah Henderson listed among her 20 priority areas, are on a long list of Colac district locations on a government database of 6000 “inadequate mobile coverage” sites across Australia.
The database lists all areas nominated by residents or businesses which are eligible for a new or enhanced mobile base station under the government’s $100-million Mobile Black Spot Program.
Ms Henderson, who hosted a communications meeting with Horden Vale and Glenaire residents last week, said the Corangamite electorate had among the highest number of mobile phone black spots in Australia, according to a Communications Department list.
She said the department created the list after calling for people to nominate areas with poor mobile phone service along with extensive consultation.
“In Corangamite, 136 mobile phone black spots have been reported to the department,” Ms Henderson said.
She said the meeting with Horden Vale and Glenaire residents identified a range of concerns from mobile phone coverage to landline and broadband issues.
“I am working hard to advocate for the needs of communities such as those in the Aire Valley on mobile phone black spots as well issues with broadband and fixed-line services,” Ms Henderson said.
“I will particularly be fighting for areas of high bushfire risk; the Great Ocean Road is an incredible tourist asset and it is important to have telecommunication services not just for local people and businesses but also for the thousands of tourists who travel through here.
“The government expects that between 250 and 300 new mobile phone base stations will be built across Australia and the selection process is expected to leverage at least an additional $100 million in investment from bidding parties, state governments and local councils,” she said.
“In some cases, nominated locations are close to each other, meaning that one base station may be able to provide coverage to multiple locations.”
Ms Henderson said the government planned to choose the locations which would receive funding in the first half of 2015, with the first base stations funded under the program expected to start rolling out in the second half of 2015.
“We are also seeking to leverage the National Broadband Network to better support mobile communications.
“For example, by seeking opportunities for towers in the NBN fixed wireless network to be used for co-location by mobile network operators to deliver mobile wireless services.”