‘BLACK spots’ in mobile phone coverage can be a daily battle for Far North Queenslanders but there’s now an opportunity for local residents and businesses to highlight problem areas.
During the election campaign, the Coalition announced its policy to invest $100 million to ensure that regional, remote and outer-metropolitan communities have access to more reliable and available mobile phone service.
The policy included two main funding areas;
· $80 million for mobile network expansion to improve coverage and competition along major transport routes, in small communities, and in locations prone to natural disasters;
· $20 million for a mobile black spot programme to address areas with insufficient coverage during high-use periods, for example in popular seasonal tourism locations.
Today, Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has announced that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher MP, will travel to the Far North in early 2014 to meet with residents who are suffering from poor reception.
“There are a number of black spots in the Far North that I’m aware of from the Goldsborough Valley south of Cairns, to the Captain Cook Highway between Ellis Beach and Mowbray, the Daintree, Speewah, the Peninsula Development Road and numerous areas on Cape York and in the Torres Strait Islands,” said Mr Entsch.
“People tell me that the lack of phone coverage is not just a major inconvenience but also a safety issue for them and their staff.
“We want to make sure that the funding is targeted to areas in real need, so we are asking for input from people who are living or working in areas that are poorly served by mobile services.”
Interested stakeholders may include local councils, businesses in the tourism, transport, agriculture or other affected industries, and local mobile phone dealers.
“Not only will Mr Fletcher be able to hear first-hand about issues in our region but we’ve got access to a significant funding pool with which to make improvements,” Mr Entsch said.
Mr Fletcher will travel around Australia over the next five months holding the community consultation. It is hoped that the funding criteria will be announced early next year so that applications can be assessed in 2014 and new mobile phone base stations can begin operating in 2015.
Anyone wanting to raise their mobile phone coverage concerns with the Parliamentary Secretary can register their interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.