NSW community without mobile phone internet coverage calls telecom operators

Four hundred residents of a community just an hour north of Sydney fear it is only a matter of time before someone dies because they lack proper communications.

“Communications in 2022 is just a basic right for all Australians, but we have been forgotten by government and telecom operators,” said St Albans resident Shivon. A topical matter.

St Albans and the surrounding villages have no mobile phone or internet coverage and a poor landline connection.

Local Shivon from St Albans. (A current affair)
Jan and her husband Bruce. (A current affair)

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“My husband has been sick recently and I’m afraid if he gets worse I won’t be able to bring anyone up for help,” said Jan, who has lived in St Albans for over 30 years.

Another resident, John, said: “I’ve been here for over half a century and nothing has changed.

“We’ve been promised mobile phone coverage for years and nothing is happening.”

Matilda and Poppy are local schoolgirls. (A current affair)
Resident Lewis. (A current affair)

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Matilda and Poppy are local schoolgirls and say “it’s impossible to do your homework without internet”.

Resident Lewis said: ‘Telecoms keep telling us they’re looking into the problem, but the years go by.

He resorted to installing a satellite link to get internet and phone coverage, but it cost him $6,000 for installation and hefty monthly fees.

“It’s like a third world country here and nobody cares,” he said.

Statement from the Minister of Communications, the Honorable Michelle Rowland MP:

Reliable telecommunications can make the difference between life and death.

The Albanian government is committed to ensuring Australians have access to improved connectivity, including in the Australian regions and countryside.

Our plan for better connectivity will extend mobile coverage along roads and improve mobile coverage of regional communities, invest in local projects to boost connectivity for households and businesses in the region, help extend connectivity on the farm and will enable better wireless extension solutions in the field.

Mobile Blackhead Program

The Australian Government has funded three new base stations in the Macdonald Valley of NSW under the Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP) in the upper, middle and lower parts of the valley in St Albans, Macdonald Valley Public School and Lower Macdonald.

The Macdonald Valley Public School Small Cell Base Station was completed by Telstra in August 2020. This base station provides new 4G mobile coverage to the public school and local premises adjacent to the site.

Telstra has also received MBSP Round 5A funding to deliver a new 4G small cell base station to the community of Lower Macdonald. The Series 5A rollout has now begun with the schedule of funded base stations, including this site, which will soon be available on Telstra’s website.

The St Albans base station, delivered by Optus, has experienced significant delays due to problems obtaining the required local and national government approvals at a suitable location to build the base station. Optus is working with the relevant authorities to obtain the necessary permits for the construction of a new small cell base station in the township. Subject to obtaining the required approvals in the coming months, the base station is currently expected to be completed by mid-2023.

I encourage all stakeholders including local councils, state authorities and mobile operators to work together so that our communities can get the reliable, good quality mobile coverage they deserve.

Communities will have new opportunities to benefit from improved digital connectivity through the Albanian Government’s Better Connectivity Plan, which will help more Australians get better connected. Key elements of the plan include $400 million in funding to expand mobile coverage along roads and in underserved communities; and a commitment of $200 million for further rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program, a location-based program that aims to provide funding for digital connectivity projects across regional Australia.

National Broadband Network (NBN)

The NBN is currently available in St Albans via Sky Muster satellite technology. Customers can order a service from the retailer of their choice.

Shortly after being elected, the Albanian government delivered on its commitment to provide $480 million to NBN Co to begin major upgrades to its fixed wireless and satellite networks.

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