Push to get valleys coverage

TAWONGA and Tatong are two mobile phone blackspots in the North East the Victorian government is hoping to rectify.

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes agreed there were a number of other areas with poor coverage including the Ovens and King valleys.

But Dr Sykes said the government was trying to improve phone infrastructure across the region.

“For a number of years I have been advocating on behalf of local communities for improvements by commercial mobile providers, particularly in areas recognised as mobile phone blackspots,” he said.

“In the North East, we have a number of challenges in improving mobile phone coverage including in the Upper Goulburn, Tatong, Strathbogie, Tawonga areas and the Ovens and King valleys.

“There have been a number of improvements including the installation of mobile phone towers at Myrrhee and in the Strathbogie Ranges as a result of local communities banding together to lobby commercial mobile providers for improved infrastructure.”

Dr Sykes said despite those improvements more needed to be done and the Victorian government had been urging the federal government to provide funds for improved mobile coverage in blackspot areas.

The federal government has provided $100 million to its mobile coverage program.

Dr Sykes said a discussion paper for the program was released on December 16 last year and the Victorian government had made a submission.

“Options for working with the Commonwealth government and mobile carriers will continue to be developed by the Victorian government to implement the program in country regions,” he said.

Dr Sykes said the Victorian Technology Minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips, had written to all regional and rural mayors to encourage them to respond to the federal government about the business, social and public safety impacts of mobile coverage issues in their area.

Submissions to the program closed on February 28, but the federal government continues to accept nominations of locations with poor or no mobile coverage.

Blackspot locations can be reported to mobilecoverage@communications.gov.au.

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