By Rich Evans
Residents of Portland and Cullen Bullen have had enough! Over the past six weeks there has been a substantial level of signal loss for mobile phones and mobile internet in the area. For a number of years, Telstra have been moving people in the town off ADSL and onto mobile broadband services, which are now virtually unusable.
As a business owner in the town, not being able to take or make mobile phone calls is really damaging our business. I have had to drive out of town towards Wallerawang in order to retrieve my messages from missed calls as there has been no service.
Businesses cannot use their mobile EFTPOS machines, not to mention the number of residents who now only have mobile phones, not fixed landlines.
Portland is a town on the move with major new developments starting and something as basic as mobile phone coverage is not something that should be an issue in this day and age.
The NBN is seemingly years away from this region (which is a whole other rant) so we need to ensure that reliable internet and phone services are available to the residents and businesses in the town.
I can accept that my mobile phone service drops out when I am driving out to Capertee, there is a huge area that is not highly populated, however in a town located only 25km from a regional centre, I fail to see how this is so hard.
Calls to Telstra have yielded a variety of responses ranging from “we are fixing some equipment and should have service restored in the next couple of weeks”, to the far more concerning response I received from an anonymous source telling me that they know it’s a problem, but there is no plan to fix it in the foreseeable future.
I rely massively on my mobile phone for my business, both for this paper and for my software business where I have several interstate clients. To not be able to receive or make calls or respond timely to messages without leaving my office seems completely ridiculous.
The reality is there is power in numbers, so I invite all residents of Portland: send us your concerns either via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or to our post office box 227 Portland NSW 2847.
I would suggest commenting on our Facebook page, but you probably won’t be able to get online to do that!
Editor’s Note: Whilst making calls and researching this story, we obviously rattled some cages and received the following information from John Cobb’s office, just before going to print.
• On May 10, a major fault was found with the Portland tower after several reports were made by Mr Cobb’s office to Telstra.
• Telstra worked on it for several days. They realised that a major part was faulty, and was ordered and replaced on May 22.
• The tower was back up and running again by Saturday, May 23.
• It’s hoped that shortly the Portland tower will be upgraded to the 4GX network, which will provide much better coverage.
Followed later by:
• Telstra have this week found another fault in the tower which is causing ‘power spikes’.
• The mobile team are investigating the problem – and hope to have it rectified as soon as possible (but no timeframe provided).
• The planned upgrade for the Portland tower will take place on June 10.