Poor phone service chokes growth

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Poor phone service chokes growth

Missing out: Ineke Veale and Chris Oliver are among the Dumbalk residents frustrated by the lack of mobile phone service. Their views are shared by Tony Tomada, Stan Fitzgerald, Ian Wise, Tracie Tomada, Faye and Tommy Marshman, and Ed Hanley.

THE development of Dumbalk is being stifled by poor mobile phone service in the district.
Lives are also being put at risk, with residents unable to phone emergency services in the event of an accident unless they have access to landline.
Families are fed up paying for mobile phone services without adequate coverage.
The community has been battling for better mobile phone service for 15 years, but to no avail.
Service provider Telstra has effectively ruled out installing a tower to service the Dumbalk district, with a spokesperson declaring doing so was not a commercially viable proposition.
However the telco has offered Dumbalk residents a dedicated officer, but that will not improve coverage immediately.
Don Couper, president of the Dumbalk and District Progress Association, is outraged.
“In this modern age, we are back with the horse and buggy. It’s not only mobile phones, but also to a large extent internet,” he said.
“I don’t think businesses can work these days without the internet.”
Dumbalk General Store owner Ineke Veale was simply frustrated.
“It’s no good trying to develop this community because we’re handicapped,” she said.
Sue and Andrew Horvath install solar hot water systems and moved their business to Dumbalk from Phillip Island in May last year.
“Our business has dropped dramatically because we do not have phone reception and no one can contact us,” Mrs Horvath said.
“My husband has voice to text (on his mobile) so he has to walk somewhere on the property and wait for reception to receive his messages, and then walk back to the house and make calls on the landline. It’s time wasting.
“If you can’t get a call there and then, there is a 95 per cent chance that that you have lost that sale.”
Agricultural contractor Ian Wise is also missing out on business. Despite the Dumbalk valley being a prosperous dairying district, reception means contractors and farmers are hindered.
“If you are going from one farm to the next, a farmer wants to know a rough time that you will be there and if you can’t ring him, it’s frustrating,” he said.
Chris Oliver is a casual relief teacher and is worried she is missing out on work.
“If I’m in the paddock working, I cannot receive a call to teach the next day so if I’m not there at the time, the school will move on to the next person,” she said.
“When I get to the end of the road out here, my phone starts beeping with all these messages coming through.”
Mr Wise believes Telstra should erect a mobile phone tower on Austin’s Hill, 17km from Dumbalk and a high point overlooking the valley, that would provide ample coverage.
Mrs Horvath said mobile phones were effectively an essential service in contemporary society, but mobile phones were useless at Dumbalk.
“I’m locked into a two year plan because it was guaranteed to work in this area but it’s useless,” she said.
Tracie Tomada said Telstra customers in Dumbalk should be offered cheaper plans.
“We get one bar of reception but we pay for five,” she said.
Mrs Tomada and her husband Tony recently toured Tasmania and despite being in valleys, did not lose reception.
“If you are out in the boondocks and you have a mishap, what do you do?” he said.
Mr Wise added: “I’m largely working by myself and if I have an accident at 10 in the morning, a lot of people would not miss me for a few hours.”
Mr Tomada has been frustrated while undertaking internet banking, as he relies on an authorisation number sent from his bank to his mobile – via text message – for the transaction to proceed. He must leave his computer, run to the front of his house and quickly return to his computer as the number is only valid for 30 seconds.
“The pollies don’t give a damn because there are not enough voters here,” he said.
The former police officer said quality mobile reception is vital in the event of an accident to alert emergency services quickly.
Dumbalk resident Graeme O’Connor knows that only too well.
He recalled a night when he was awoken by a car accident at 2am. He found a ute overturned in the middle of Nerrena Road and the driver 30m away, bloodied but otherwise okay.
“I had to leave him to run 100m up my hill to get telephone reception. The guy was never going to die but it is going to happen around here when someone might not be so lucky,” Mr O’Connor said.
“Where that accident happened was not as though it’s a ravine. The car was in the middle of the road and I wondered whether the next person to come around the corner was going to run into him.
“I can’t understand why they simply can’t fix it. There is a whole heap of Telstra customers in that one valley. If I treated my customers like that, they would not use me.
“It makes a mockery of when they say only three per cent of Australia is not connected. We are just a couple of hundred kilometres from the nearest capital city.”

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Posted by on Feb 9 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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