A $22 million Telstra investment into mobile coverage throughout western Victoria will mean Ballarat is well connected for an expected population influx over the next 30 years the Committee For Ballarat says.
Committee for Ballarat chair Nick Beale was joined In Ballarat on Tuesday by Telstra chief executive Andy Penn who said western Victoria would see 74 new mobile base stations constructed by the end of the financial year.
It comes days after concerns were raised about black spots in bushfire-prone regions and just two weeks after Rainbow Serpent festival near Lexton was plagued by connectivity issues.
Mr Penn said Victoria is already one of the highest coverage areas in the country, but the new stations would mean less black spots, particularly in rural areas.
“We cover 99.9 per cent of the population, but of course that means there are still spots around the country where there are black spots,” he said. “We’ve been filling in mobile black sport I think we’ve already fixed 122 across the Victoria regions.
Mr Penn also announced new repeater technology would mean V/Line trains to Melbourne would no longer be subject to drop outs.
“Another project we are doing is on is along the V/Line train to Melbourne where we are putting in repeaters into trains,” he said.
“The way these work is that the trains go past the mobile towers along the corridor, we have repeaters inside the train so they can both pick up the signal and continue to repeat them into the train.”
Mr Beale said fixing connectivity was a key to growth in Ballarat.
“From a Committee For Ballarat point of view, we’ve been concentrating on connectivity in a lot of areas,” he said. “The main thing is we get most of the black spots covered off, we have that I think now.
“Of course everybody knows that I like the trains and to now think that the technology has caught up with us and to be able to get more mobile connectivity on the trains is just fantastic.
“I know everybody that I speak to that works in Melbourne is delighted they can get work done.”
Mr Beale said work was continually needed. “If we duplicate the lines and have good connectivity, then we can attract investment here and I think that’s what our aim must be now,” he said.
“We’ll be pushing very hard over the next couple of years to try and attract more investment on the basis of these technologies... If we get it done now, we will be well covered.”
Telstra regional manager Steve Tinker said the telco was investigating all known black spot areas. He did not rule out a new station in black spot towns such as Lexton - as Optus has already promised - going forward.
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