“We’re on the list,” Murringo resident Frank Baker said after talking with the Federal Parliamentary Secretary on Communications last week about his village being a mobile black spot.
Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor hosted a visit in Boorowa last Tuesday by the communications secretary Paul Fletcher, who is responsible for the Government’s $100 million Mobile Coverage Program.
The visit compelled three residents from Murringo to attend the gathering because they are frustrated with not having any mobile phone coverage at home.
“[We] just wanted to see where they’re up to, so we got our answer,” Frank said.
“We’re all in the same boat… they’re working on it now. We were told it should be fixed half way through 2015,” he said.
“I can’t get any texts out there (Murringo), it’s frustrating… but they’re trying.”
Another Murringo man, Ian Hopwood - who accompanied Frank to Boorowa – said the Government has allocated money towards the black spots.
“That’s a positive at least,” he said.
Boorowa’s meeting attracted representatives from a number of areas, including Rugby, Frogmore, Murringo, Bigga, Rye Park, Bannister, Gunning, Gundaroo, Cowra, Reids Flat, Harden and Boorowa itself.
Mr Taylor said the Mobile Coverage Program was one of the top priorities for people living outside the major centres across his electorate.
“Paul heard very clearly what the issues were around mobile black spots. He heard from local medical specialists, small business owners, farmers and community organisations about the impacts on business,” Mr Taylor said.
“He heard from mayors, businesses and real estate agents about impacts on economic growth. He heard from financial counsellors, health professionals, parents and emergency services about the impacts on welfare and lifestyle.
“The main message back from Paul was that we needed to gather information which would make it easier for the telecommunications carriers to fix the problems. Can existing television or RFS (Rural Fire Service) towers be used for mobile transmission? Are landowners happy to grant road access to base station sites? Can councils help with planning approvals?”
Mr Fletcher said the Government would look at putting money on the table as an incentive to the carriers – Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone - to bring plans to fruition.
The average cost to build a base station (or tower) from scratch is about $600,000 and this varies wildly depending on location.
Infrastructure costs are a fraction of that, if a tower is already there.