The Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program improved mobile coverage in 36 regions across Australia last month, however, Benalla and its surrounding areas have only seen minimal upgrades.
Benalla is not listed as a priority location in the program, which is a concern to anyone living or working in a black spot area, particularly with a severe fire season predicted.
Should a fire, or any type of emergency, occur in a black-spot the time it takes for a person to get to a good signal area to raise an alarm could cost lives.
Telstra has completed base station upgrades in Myrrhee and Tatong in the past 12 months, and it expects upgrades to be complete at Moyhu, Upper Ryans Creek and Molyullah by next year.
This still leaves at least 17 black spots in the areas surrounding Benalla and it is unclear when the necessary upgrades will take place.
Federal Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash announced the final round of improvements last week.
‘‘The building of the Coalition’s 765 new or improved mobile phone towers has really ramped up now,’’ Ms Nash said.
‘‘We’re building a tower every day, in partnership with telecommunications companies.
‘‘Getting local planning permissions for the mobile tower sites, and in some cases going through complaints processes, is largely complete and the towers are going up at a rate of knots.
‘‘We’ve got every available set of hands in Australia busy delivering these mobile phone towers by the end of next year.’’
Which towers Ms Nash is talking about when promising completion by the end of next year is unclear.
Optus and vodafone have no plans to upgrade existing towers or build new ones in the Benalla area, according to their respective black-spot upgrade maps.
Telstra’s online black-spot map shows no plans to build or upgrade any towers after work in Moyhu, Upper Ryans Creek and Molyullah is complete.
The competitive process for a further round of funding to address other priority black spots will start later this year.
So it seems that people living in and around Benalla will have to accept that there will be mobile black spots in the area for at least the near future.
●For more information about the government’s mobile black-spot program, visit www.communications.gov.au/mbsp