Con­nec­tion lost

Res­i­dents de­mand ac­tion on spotty mo­bile phone cov­er­age

Gatton Star - - FRONT PAGE - Me­lanie Keyte me­lanie.keyte@gat­ton­star.com.au

WHEN cus­tomers pay for a ser­vice, they ex­pect the ser­vice to work.

But Heli­don Progress As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Kameron Jef­frey said that’s not what’s hap­pen­ing in the Lock­yer and Bris­bane val­leys.

The as­so­ci­a­tion has launched a cam­paign to pres­sure the three ma­jor telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions providers -– Tel­stra, Op­tus and Voda­fone – and all lev­els of gov­ern­ment to im­prove in­ter­mit­tent mo­bile phone ser­vice in the re­gion.

Mr Jef­frey said the un­re­li­able ser­vice was let­ting down the re­gion.

“For us to be able to fu­ture-proof our re­gion, mo­bile phone cov­er­age is a very ba­sic ne­ces­sity,” he said.

There are no re­quire­ments for car­ri­ers to en­sure ad­e­quate de­liv­ery of mo­bile ser­vices, though there are obli­ga­tions on car­ri­ers to en­sure land­line con­nec­tions and pay­phone ac­cess, which is sub­sidised by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

A state­ment from the De­part­ment of Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and Arts said it can­not en­force mo­bile de­liv­ery but ini­tia­tives like the Mo­bile Black Spot Pro­gram would en­cour­age in­vest­ment and com­pe­ti­tion.

How­ever, a Voda­fone spokesper­son said res­i­dents were pay­ing due to a lack of re­gional mo­bile com­pe­ti­tion.

Their pro­posed so­lu­tion was do­mes­tic roam­ing, which would en­able cus­tomers to con­nect to any tower.

Even then, it might not be that sim­ple, said Som­er­set res­i­dent and IT pro­fes­sional Paul Hey­mans.

“Wire­less tech­nol­ogy is not go­ing to be as re­li­able that’s the na­ture of the beast,” he said.

All three car­ri­ers have in­vested in new equip­ment around the re­gion, but Mr Hey­mans said spotty re­cep­tion could be put down to a num­ber of fac­tors out­side the op­er­a­tors’ con­trol, in­clud­ing ter­rain, weather and home de­sign.

He also noted, as did spokes­peo­ple from Tel­stra, Op­tus, Voda­fone and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, that it was sim­ply too ex­pen­sive to en­sure cov­er­age in all ar­eas, par­tic­u­larly those with a lower pop­u­la­tion den­sity.

Due to th­ese is­sues, Mr Jef­frey is wor­ried his town will be left be­hind in the mo­bile age, a con­cern shared by Lock­yer Val­ley Mayor Tanya Mil­li­gan.

Both Lock­yer Val­ley and Som­er­set may­ors wel­comed res­i­dents to use free wifi at var­i­ous coun­cil fa­cil­i­ties.

But Mr Jef­frey main­tains res­i­dents are be­ing let down.

“No­body said it has to be per­fect, but we do ex­pect re­li­able and con­sis­tent cov­er­age,” he said.

“Without that, we as pay­ing cus­tomers are pay­ing for a ser­vice that’s not guar­an­teed and that’s not right.”

PHOTO: ME­LANIE KEYTE

NO SER­VICE: Bri­ony Som­mers and Kameron Jef­frey be­lieve the lack of re­li­able mo­bile re­cep­tion in the Val­ley is a se­ri­ous prob­lem.

PHOTO: ME­LANIE KEYTE

NO SIG­NAL: Bri­ony Som­mers and Kameron Jef­frey strug­gle with ser­vice.

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