Lexton residents, fresh from a nasty bushfire scare, are angry about the lack of phone coverage in the town for as long as there's been mobile phones.
Two incidents in the past few months have highlighted this - an accident involving a bus full of specialist school students in October, and the monstrous bushfire which threatened to impact the town on Friday night.
Federal government funding was announced for a tower in December 2016, but three years later, there's still no tower.
Optus will be installing a tower "in the next few months", according to a spokesperson, now that planning permits and leases have been approved, but for many residents, the fire was the last straw.
Chatting to people in town on Saturday morning, they mentioned lives could have been at risk, especially isolated residents who would not have received internet notifications about the evacuation.
They said they saw firefighters driving to the top of hills to get coverage.
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Lives were at risk because of the lack of infrastructure, they said.
Emergency crews were able to doorknock people to let them know about the evacuation, but for family members who wanted to check in on loved ones, or for farmers trying to find a safe place for their animals, there was no way to communicate.
That made a scary situation terrifying, the residents said.
On Friday evening and Saturday morning, The Courier attempted to use phones on both Optus and Telstra networks to contact colleagues in Ballarat while covering the fires in and around Lexton - one phone call made it through, and was described as "patchy".
Tony Briody, a CFA volunteer, said the town "desperately" needed a tower.
"If it takes something like this to realise how hard it is to operate in an area like this, it's a disgrace, really," he said.
"We're lucky yesterday, there were no injuries or houses gone.
"We can put a person in space but they can't get a mobile phone tower to help us here."
Another CFA volunteer, Cam Pitkethly, said locals were not getting emergency notifications.
"I was at the fire front with four other crew members and only two people received the emergency warning notification," he said.
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"A lot of the locals not receive the message as well - the phone service here is a disaster waiting to happen.
"The bus accident on the Sunraysia Highway proved that a couple of months ago when no one could contact 000 to raise the alarm."
Ingrid Johnson said she was lucky her landline was still working, and was able to contact family members as she stayed to defend her home.
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"If our landline was down, we would have been in real trouble," she said.
"My daughter asked if I'd seen a person in Lexton, I said I had, but his family could not contact him, so that made it very difficult.
"It's terrifying for people outside this area - my brother rang me up at 12 at night when he heard, it was just scary for people."
At a community meeting for the fire, resident Katrina Lee spoke up, condemning the lack of coverage.
"Last night we all evacuated to the shop and used their Wi-Fi there, but the internet went down roughly 9pm, so we didn't have the ability to use our cell phones," she said.
"It would make people relax a bit more if we had the coverage, then we could be in touch with our neighbours all the time as well.
"We've had two major incidents now this year, they've signed the lease, there should be nothing holding us back."
Also at the meeting, state member for Ripon, Louise Staley, said she understood the frustrations, and expected the tower to be built within two or three months.
"All the other towers that came in that project have been built," she said.
"It has taken some time, and I think the community is justified in their anger about this."
She defended the federal government's action, saying the money was on the table and Wannon MP Dan Tehan was "actively" working to complete the project.
Mr Tehan said he had been fighting for the tower for years.
"Given what has happened, my hope would be that Optus would have the tower erected as soon as possible," he said.
"This has taken far far too long and the process should be looked at.
"My heartfelt sympathy is with all those landholders who lost property as a result of the fire."
In October, a spokesperson from the Department of Communications and the Arts said a range of factors can delay delivery, including local planning approval processes, negotiations to acquire land at a suitable site, reliance on third parties such as power authorities to complete work on time and connect mains power and adverse weather conditions.
Pyrenees Shire mayor Tanya Kehoe said she was "disappointed" the tower had not yet been built.
"We know the Optus tower will be going ahead as soon as possible, everything's been signed that needs to be signed, so we're just waiting for Optus to deliver," she said.
"We want it to happen as soon as possible, and we're attempting to do that as best as we can from our perspective."
An Optus spokesperson said in a statement the company was "working closely" with Pyrenees Shire Council on the "final agreement".
"As part of the Federal Government's Mobile Black Spot Program Optus will be installing a new site in Lexton," they said.
"(We) expect to commence installation in the next few months.
"In the instance of an emergency, customers should still dial 000 - or for deaf/speech or hearing-impaired dial 106 - any available telecommunications network will still be able carry the call.
"Optus recommends television, radio, the internet and emergency services as vital sources of information in emergency situations."
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