Numurkah Leader, February 21 2018: A $12 million Telstra investment in mobile phone coverage for northern Victoria and Bendigo will include a network upgrade for Strathmerton, the company says.
The money will be spent across 20 projects to deliver new or improved mobile coverage this financial year.
“The investment will be delivered through capacity and speed upgrades to existing base stations, new small cells for 4G coverage, as well as Telstra’s contribution to the Mobile Black Spot Program,” a company media release said.
“We know mobile coverage is a key priority for people and businesses in regional and rural areas,” Telstra Area General Manager Steve Tinker was quoted as saying.
The Leader spoke to several locals in Strathmerton who said they didn’t have serious problems with phone coverage, although for some, internet connection was an issue.
But Railway Hotel bartender Nicole Hughes said some customers were unable to get reception in the pub and other locations around town.
“I’m on Telstra and I don’t have trouble myself, but I know of people who are also on Telstra who do,” she said. “And of course there are problems with Optus.”
Dairy farmer Daryl Hoey, who lives between Strathmerton and Katunga, said there were a number of dead spots across his farm, including the house.
“There are days when it’s OK, but there are times when you try to do business in the house on mobile phone coverage and end up having to stand outside to continue the call,” he said.
“I’ve got towers at Strathmerton, Katunga and Yalca and whether or not it’s because there’s a dead spot in the middle of all three I don’t know, but coverage certainly needs to be improved.”
Mr Hoey also described phone and internet coverage in the towns of Katunga and Waaia and their sportsgrounds as “very ordinary”.
A Telstra representative said the company had recently upgraded its Strathmerton site to 4GX, which delivered increased capacity for the local mobile network and improved, more consistent data speeds.
“The upgrade has also provided some improvements in coverage from the site. Katunga, at 9km away, should received some modest gains in coverage,” he said.
Telstra has invested $2.2 billion in its regional mobile network over the last three years to extend the benefits of connectivity to more Australians, Mr Tinker said in the company’s media release.
“We continually see the benefit mobile coverage brings to farmers, shop owners, doctors and schools in Australia’s remote areas.”
The network upgrades would also help extend Telstra’s Internet of Things capabilities, the company said, enabling more customers access to new and innovative technology, such as aps to track parcels or measure soil moisture, which use internet-connected devices.
“We will continue to expand our network across the country so that all Australians can have access to the latest technology and stay connected to the things they love,” Mr Tinker said.