FRUSTRATED Somerton residents have put their hands up for a share of $100 million to fix mobile phone black spots.
For years locals have contacted Telstra and Optus about the area’s pathetic phone coverage – despite being just 30km from Tamworth – only for their complaints to be fobbed off.
But the federal government’s pledge to spend $100 million improving reception in regional and remote communities has given them fresh hope.
Lindsay Doyle, who runs a surveying and building consultancy based just outside the village, said it was high-time the problem was fixed.
He said his smartphone was his most important business tool and it was unacceptable in this day and age for it to be rendered useless so frequently.
“It’s extremely frustrating when you’re in the middle of a business call and it drops out and you have to ring back – it’s just time-wasting,” he said.
“The phone never rings – it just goes to message bank – and calls are dropping out all of the time. I’ve raised the problem with Telstra and they just say it’s our mobile, but everyone around here is having the same trouble.”
Ian Randolph has run the Somerton Roadhouse for five years and said the suggestion that residents’ phones were at fault, not the network, was “rubbish”.
“We should have damn good reception because if you were only 30km out of the CBD in Sydney you’d have good reception, wouldn’t you?” he said.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce said residents who to wanted to make a submission to the communications department should contact his office.
“Having a number of submissions from the general community shows the decision-makers in Canberra that there is a widespread desire to address mobile reception black spots,” he said.