The largest primary industry in South Australia’s south-east says it will put up funds to help build more than 25 phone towers across the region if telcos and government come to the table.
- The south-east forestry industry says better mobile service is needed to create new jobs
- Industry, Telstra, and local government would need to work together to create the network
- Telstra says it will consult with stakeholders to create a comprehensive business case
The South Australian Forest Products Association (SAFPA) represents members from across the forestry industry including plantations, haulage, and the manufacturing of products.
It has appeared in front of a parliamentary standing committee into an opportunities for co-investment into regional mobile infrastructure hearing in Adelaide where it outlined a plan to fix all mobile black spots in the south-east.
SAFPA chief executive Nathan Paine said current coverage levels prevented the industry from introducing new technology and discouraged potential workers from moving to the region.
“We look at the fact we have more than 21,000 workers, many of which head out into the forest by themselves,” Mr Paine said.
“We want to make sure those people have connectivity so they’re safe, people driving our roads have connectivity, and we want to make sure industry has connectivity.
“That’s why we’ve been talking with government about an ambitious plan to connect up the entire south-east so no matter where you are you can pick up your phone and be able to get a signal.”
Mr Paine said while signal strength was strong in some areas, particularly towns, locals knew where the black spots were.
He said the association would be working with Telstra and local councils in the south-east to apply for federal government funding.
“This is a big region, it’s a critical region to the South Australian economy,” Mr Paine said.
“If we can increase that connectivity we know that people will be safer, we’ll be able to protect ourself better from issues such as fire, and we’ll be able to increase productivity in the industry which will create more jobs.
“And most importantly it will make the region a beacon for regional migration which I think is really critical in the years to come.”
Business case needed for network
Telstra has been meeting with local councils throughout the south-east in recent months, including with the Tatiara Council last week.
Minutes from that meeting show new mobile towers have been touted for Shaugh, Sherwood, Western Flat, and Mundulla, but would require government and industry funding.
In a statement, Telstra regional general manager Michael Patterson said there were still “many places where coverage and capacity could be improved”.
He said Telstra was meeting with stakeholders “to build a co-investment business case to expand or improve our mobile network right across the south-east”.
“This will not only improve Telstra coverage, it will also expand triple zero connectivity in times of emergency for all networks.
“Once consultation has concluded in the next few weeks, we will have a better understanding of the key issues across the region and stakeholder willingness to participate in a regional submission for consideration as part of the federal government’s regional connectivity program.”
Posted , updated