The Benalla area has again been overlooked for improved mobile phone coverage.
The Victorian Government is partnering with Optus to build 25 mobile towers throughout regional Victoria providing 5000 households and businesses with coverage.
However, none of those will be in the Benalla area despite recent surveys concluding that there are at least 17 local black-spots where no signal can be received.
In a best-case scenario the lack of a phone signal can be annoying, however, with a severe fire season being predicted in some cases it could cost lives.
Victorian Innovation and the Digital Economy Minister Phillip Dalidakis said the state government had invested almost $31 million to address mobile connectivity across the state.
‘‘Those living in regional Victoria deserve better mobile coverage in their homes, workplaces and while they travel,’’ Mr Dalidakis said.
The communities that will benefit from the announcement are Edgecombe, Monegeetta, Nanneella, Wharparilla, Yackandandah North and Girgarre with new towers being built.
Telecommunications infrastructure is crucial for the growth, liveability and safety of regional Victorian households and businesses, and more will be connected than ever before.
Although it is unclear if and when the black-spots in the Benalla area will be addressed.
More than 166 regional communities are now being connected to mobile data and calls across the state, 41 of these with Optus.
In the past 12 months Telstra has completed upgrades in Myrrhee and Tatong, which has removed some black-spots.
They also have plans to upgrade towers at Moyhu, Upper Ryans Creek and Molyullah next year.
Although the reality is that these plans barely scratch the surface of work that needs to be completed to address an array of black spots in the Benalla area.
The state government is making moves in the right direction with the announcement of the $45 million Connecting Regional Communities Program in the Victorian Budget.
They have also introduced free public wifi in Bendigo and Ballarat, a service that might eventually make its way to smaller regional towns and cities.
However, in the meantime people living or working in the region’s black-spots will have to accept that they will not have access to a signal for the foreseeable future.