Mobile phone coverage will finally come to Lexton and Waubra this year.
Optus will build towers to eliminate black spots in the region, with support from the state and federal governments.
The Pyrenees Hotel, just off the Sunraysia Highway in Lexton, is used to people running in to ask to use the landline phone at all hours.
Pub co-owner Brett Lennard said people would have to stand near the highway to get a patchy signal.
“I’ve seen two major accidents at this intersection, and it’s lucky we’ve got a landline, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to call anyone,” he said.
“This has been going for at least 12 or 14 years now, it’s just poor, we should be able to get (a tower).”
We lose a lot of business over it because we haven’t got phone coverage.Pyrenees Hotel co-owner Brett Lennard
Residents have repeatedly approached governments to get towers built, adding it’s a public safety concern - each year, thousands of people descend on the area for the Rainbow Serpent festival, and Lexton stalwart Robert Palmby added there were plenty of tourists coming through.
“Between here and Avoca there’s no coverage,” he said.
“You’re heading towards all the wineries from Ballarat, this is the gateway to 36 wineries that way.”
Mr Lennard said people often kept on driving.
“We lose a lot of business over it because we haven’t got phone coverage, people won’t stay here unless they can use their mobile,” he said.
Work on the towers will begin soon - already, one is operating near Amphitheatre, and the Lexton and Waubra towers are in the site acquisition stages and are due to be finished in the second quarter of 2019.
A spokesperson for the federal Department of Communications and the Arts said while Optus has been funded to build the towers, customers with other providers will still be able to make emergency phone calls.
“The proposed site for the Lexton base station is expected to provide new handheld coverage to the township, and to the current site of the Rainbow Serpent Music Festival,” they said.
“The Waubra base station is expected to provide new handheld coverage to the township and surrounding areas, such as Mount Bolton.
“External antenna coverage will also provide improved reception along major transport routes for people with an in-car antenna kit, such as along the Sunraysia Highway linking the towns of Lexton and Waubra.”
The federal government contributed $220 million to the mobile black spot program, and the state government has also contributed to 194 towers in Victoria, of which 127 have been built.
State Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes said the towers would provide “reliable coverage”.
“These are two of six new towers to provide communities in the Pyrenees region with the coverage they need – with towers already up and running in Landsborough, Landsborough West, Moonambel and Ampitheatre,” she said.
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