February 13, 2014
The South Burnett Regional Council will be applying for funding from the Federal Government’s $100 million regional mobile coverage program to begin putting an end to the South Burnett’s worst mobile phone “black spots”.
SBRC Economic Development Manager Phil Harding said today Council would be lodging five applications for money from the fund to address some of the South Burnett’s worst black spot areas.
- The Wondai-Chinchilla and Durong-Mundubbera Roads
- The area around Boondooma Dam
- The Maidenwell-Bunya Mountains area
- The areas around Murgon and Cherbourg
- The Bunya Highway between Murgon and Goomeri
He said the Council had recently partnered with the Wide Bay-Burnett Economic Development Group to engage a consultant to travel the region’s major roads to locate black spots.
The consultant’s final report had now been received and it would be used as a basis for negotiating with the Federal and State Governments for funding.
The report would also be used in negotiations with telecommunications companies to encourage them to extend or expand mobile coverage in areas that were poorly serviced.
“Many people using the 4G network will see a big coverage improvement within 12 months,” Mr Harding said.
“We’ve been advised that the part of the broadcasting spectrum that was being used by analog television will be made available to the 4G network.
“When this occurs the 4G coverage area will expand almost five times.”
However, fixing black spots in other areas may take a few years since it will be dependent partly on government funding, and partly on the willingness of telecommunications companies to invest in upgrading problem areas themselves.
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The SBRC made the first move towards fixing telecommunications problems in the Durong and Boondooma areas on Tuesday when Cr Kathy Duff and Cr Ros Heit held a public information session in the area to advise locals about the Council’s plans to erect a $125,000 communications tower there.
The tower would be built either on private property at Carter’s Corner, or on Council-owned land immediately behind the Durong Store.
Telecommunications difficulties in the Durong and Boondooma areas have been a sore point with residents for many years.
Lack of mobile coverage poses risks to residents’ lives in accident situations or extreme weather events, and makes everyday life difficult in normal times.
Cr Ros Heit said more than 30 local residents had attended the meeting, where they were advised the Council had originally received the money for the tower from the Community Recovery Flexible Funding (CRFF) grant program run by the Department Of Communities.
In May last year the Council voted to use leftover money from the CRFF program to build a new tower at Cushnie but has now decided the tower would be better placed in the Durong area.
The tower would initially house Council’s two-way communications system, Cr Heit said.
“This will help improve residents’ safety in extreme weather situations because Council staff and others who use this system will be able to communicate with one another,” she said.
But once the tower was built, Council would begin seeking a telecommunications provider to co-locate a mobile network transmitter on the tower to improve mobile reception in the area.