No ex­pla­na­tion why Kev­ing­ton was over­looked

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS - By RHYLL MCCOR­MACK

TEL­STRA has fi­nally re­sponded to con­cerned Kev­ing­ton res­i­dents af­ter news the 2015 Mo­bile Blackspot pro­gram failed to pro­vide cov­er­age to the area, but in­stead would in­stall a tower at nearby Enoch’s Point.

“As you are well aware, Aus­tralia is a big coun­try,” Tel­stra area gen­eral man­ager, Steve Tinker, said.

“Build­ing a mo­bile net­work to cover our en­tire land­mass is sim­ply not tech­ni­cally or com­mer­cially fea­si­ble – we ac­knowl­edge some com­mu­ni­ties such as yours (Kev­ing­ton) will be dis­ap­pointed at miss­ing out … we will con­tinue to look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­dress these ar­eas.”

Last week the Mans­field Courier (Kev­ing­ton res­i­dents still not com­mu­ni­cat­ing, July 29) in­ter­viewed two long term Kev­ing­ton res­i­dents, pub­li­can Wayne Poole and res­i­dent De­nis Tucker, both of whom ex­pressed ex­treme dis­ap­point­ment that their home­town had missed out on a mo­bile cov­er­age tower.

“Why put a tower at Enoch’s Point where there are no per­ma­nent res­i­dents? - it’s ab­so­lutely ridicu­lous,” Mr Poole said.

Mr Tucker, too, was dis­ap­pointed Kev­ing­ton had been over­looked in favour of a camp­ing spot.

“They don’t reckon there are enough peo­ple here to give us a tower – how many peo­ple are there at Enoch’s Point?”

How­ever, Mr Tinker said it was not as sim­ple as that.

“The pro­gram es­tab­lished by the gov­ern­ment in­cluded a set of cri­te­ria used to al­lo­cate the avail­able fund­ing, in­clud­ing the lack of out­door cov­er­age and the num­ber of peo­ple who would ben­e­fit from a new tower,” he said.

“We con­sid­ered these cri­te­ria when de­vel­op­ing our bid and when these cri­te­ria were com­bined with fac­tors like the cost to serve and the avail­abil­ity of state or lo­cal gov­ern­ment funds, they de­ter­mined which sites we put for­ward and which sites the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment ul­ti­mately se­lected.”

Some 499 lo­ca­tions across the coun­try were suc­cess­ful in round one of the gov­ern­ment’s Mo­bile Blackspot pro­gram.

These ar­eas were cho­sen fol­low­ing a se­lec­tion process, with mem­bers of the public asked to nom­i­nate lo­ca­tions which were then as­sessed against the fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment cri­te­ria: new mo­bile phone cov­er­age, co con­tri­bu­tions that would be pro­vided by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, cost to the gov­ern­ment, ex­ist­ing ser­vices of­fered in the lo­ca­tion, avail­abil­ity of roam­ing abil­i­ties to be ac­cessed by other telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, com­mit­ment of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies to use the tower and whether a lo­cal mem­ber of par­lia­ment had nom­i­nated the cho­sen lo­ca­tion.

“Ul­ti­mately, this is a Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment pro­gram and they set the rules for it,” Mr Tinker ex­plained.

“The ten­der process was a com­mer­cial-in-con­fi­dence one and we can­not com­ment on which sites we put for­ward that did not get funded, how­ever, what we can say is that our over­rid­ing ob­jec­tive in par­tic­i­pat­ing in this pro­gram is to max­imise the new cov­er­age in re­gional Aus­tralia and to do this we had re­gard to the cri­te­ria that was stip­u­lated by the gov­ern­ment.”

Mr Tinker said it was pos­si­ble Kev­ing­ton would be con­sid­ered for round two of the Mo­bile Blackspot pro­gram in 2016, but did not com­ment as to why the town was over­locked in favour of Enoch’s Point.

“We will con­tinue to look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to ad­dress these ar­eas, which is why we also an­nounced we will roll-out an ad­di­tional 250 small cells, which are well suited to de­liv­er­ing mo­bile data ser­vices in small coun­try towns.

“The lo­ca­tions for these cells are still to be de­ter­mined.”

Round two of the Mo­bile Blackspot pro­gram has been al­lo­cated $60 mil­lion with fund­ing to be avail­able over two years from July 1, 2016.

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