One disadvantage of living and working outside the southeast corner of the state is the lack of reliability of mobile phone coverage. Note that Australia is a country with 32 million mobile devices (many of them smartphones) and a population of only 22 million. Given those figures, is anyone going to seriously argue that the strength of a mobile phone reception is not one of the most important considerations of any enterprise?
After several years of unsuccessful attempts by local councils and others to get Canberra focussed on the issue, the Abbott Government has promised $100 million to fix mobile phone blackspots around major transport hubs and other locations.
The LGAQ wants councils to nominate eligible cases for this fund and it’s fair to say that since the call went out the issue has touched a nerve among many regional councils across the state.
More councils want to connect and engage with their communities via mobile and smartphone platforms such as SMS and Facebook, particularly for updates on natural disasters and community updates. So, for them, a robust mobile phone network is imperative.
The Cairns story is repeated across regional Queensland, and no wonder. As communities expand, telecommunications infrastructure, like the road network and water delivery systems, comes under increasing pressure to deliver the same standard of service.
The rapid growth of the resources industry has created more congestion on mobile networks, with people finding it ever more difficult to make and receive calls at certain times during the day.
There are also towns in Queensland that remain without mobile phone coverage (Windorah, Bedourie) and national highways that have very large coverage gaps (Winton – Cloncurry).
With no funding to improve telecommunications for the bush during the past seven years, the case for Queensland councils ensuring their communities benefit from the Government’s blackspots fund will be a compelling one.
Watch this space.