New Optus mobile phone base station for eastern KI

EASTERN KI: The last cruise ship for the 2018/2019 KI season, the Pacific Eden with 1500 passengers on board, docked at Penneshaw on March 15. File photo by KI Ocean Safari
EASTERN KI: The last cruise ship for the 2018/2019 KI season, the Pacific Eden with 1500 passengers on board, docked at Penneshaw on March 15. File photo by KI Ocean Safari

Eastern Kangaroo Island will get a new Optus mobile phone base station under Round 4 of the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Program.

Federal Minister for Regional Services Senator Bridget McKenzie on Friday, March 22 announced the locations of 29 new base stations in South Australia, improving mobile coverage in regional and remote communities.

The Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie meanwhile says many more towers are needed.

Island residents have also been critical of the new Telstra tower at Gosse being labelled as reaching Stokes Bay, when it's signal does not get all the way down to the coast due to the steep terrain. 

South Australia's Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone welcomed Friday's announcement and said the state's economic growth would be driven by effective mobile communications.

"The Marshall Liberal Government made a clear election commitment to help address mobile black spots across the state and this is announcement is significant step forward for regional South Australia," Minister Whetstone said.

Senator Bridget McKenzie said; "The Federal Coalition Government has worked closely with the South Australian Government as well as telecommunication providers to identify these key sites across the state."

Under Round 4 of the program, $19.4 million will be invested in mobile infrastructure in South Australia. This includes $5.5 million funding from the Commonwealth and $5.3 million from the South Australian Government.

Base stations under the first three rounds are scheduled to be operational by June 10, 2019. Round 4 base stations are expected to roll out shortly with the first new base stations being activated by the second half of the year.

The list of new South Australian locations is below. For further details on Round 4 visit: www.communications.gov.au/mbsp

It is not specified in the announcements where exactly the new Optus "macrocell" infrastructure will be built or placed on eastern Kangaroo Island.

There is a new Telstra "macrocell" tower at Gosse built under Round 3 that is now reaching wide area of western Kangaroo Island, but reports are that the new tower does not reach down to the coast and the locality of Stokes Bay, despite being labelled as such.

There is a new Optus "small cell" tower at the Rockpool Cafe that services that immediate area.

Federal Member disappointed

Plans to build a mobile phone black spot base station along one of the most dangerous roads in the Hills, and another on Kangaroo Island, was great news for Mayo but the tally fell far short of the need in the electorate, local MP Rebekha Sharkie said.

"Long Valley Road between Wistow and Strathalbyn is now a high traffic route and sadly, due to recent fatalities, one of the most dangerous roads in our region so I was pleased to learn that the Federal Government had allocated funds from Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program to address the poor to non-existent mobile phone reception in this area," Ms Sharkie said.

"The eastern side of Kangaroo Island is also a well-known mobile black spot and given that the Island is on track to receive 300,000 visitors a year, a new base station in that area is a prudent public safety measure for locals and tourists.

"This is the first round of the program announced since I was first elected, and while these sites are welcomes we are still left with too many black spots across Mayo.

"I call on both the major parties to commit to yearly rounds and not just announcements near elections."

Across the nation 180 new base stations will be delivered in Round 4 with $25 million in Federal funding and co-contributions from state governments and the mobile carriers worth $58 million.

It takes the tally for all four rounds to more than 1000 mobile base stations across Australia with a combined investment of more than $760 million.

In the previous three rounds, with $220 million in Federal investment, Mayo was granted black spots sites in Montacute, Stokes Bay, Gosse, Parawa and Ashbourne.

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