People ‘crying out’ for better mobile coverage, says advocacy group

A telecommunications advocacy group has welcomed $50 million in state government funding to improve phone and internet issues in regional NSW.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said it wanted to see more detail about how the government plans to spend the money, but remains hopeful it will make a significant difference.

“People in rural, regional and remote areas are crying out for improved and extended mobile coverage,” a spokesman said.

“Mobile coverage around important community areas and along highways and roads will benefit people’s lives and also increase safety for when accidents occur.

“$50 million is a significant amount of money, which will translate into real benefits for regional consumers, particularly if used to build on existing initiatives like the federal Mobile Black Spots Program.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the package, known as Connecting Country Communities, in southern NSW on Tuesday but the way the funding will be delivered hasn’t been determined yet.

ACCAN is a member of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC), along with organisations like the National Farmers Federation, state farmers’ bodies like the NSW Farmers, the National Rural Health Alliance and Country Women’s Association.

The RRRCC has been campaigning governments about the lack of access to reliable and quality telecommunications services for regional and remote areas.

ACCAN is advising people affected by poor landline, mobile phone or internet issues to approach a local member such as Troy Grant and making the quality of their services known.

“We encourage consumers and small businesses in NSW to start talking to their local MP about the funding to find out more about how they can engage with this initiative,” the spokesperson said. 

“In areas affected by poor mobile coverage, it may be a good idea for residents to come together to build a strong case for improved mobile coverage.”

ACCAN has called on the state government to prioritise under-serviced black spot areas, especially community areas like schools and emergency evacuation points that currently don’t have mobile coverage.

It also said people shouldn’t be punished for their coverage because the provider they choose to go with.

“Federal and state and territory programs must be coordinated, engage communities throughout the process, utilise existing infrastructure and target areas most in need of increased coverage,” the ACCAN spokesperson said.