No explanation why Kevington was overlooked
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.