A $100 million election commitment launched by The Nationals WA will improve telecommunication in regional WA and bring greater reliability to mobile connectivity. The Nationals WA plan is to work with industry to identify the initial high priority sites for co-investment.
Funding commitments include:
- $20 million to work with the network operators to identify and prioritise critical infrastructure solutions to harden networks and improve resilience, particularly in the event of power disruption.
- $75 million to identify and prioritise mobile black spots for investment, innovative last mile solutions for connecting businesses and families that don’t live in towns and cities, and strategic investment in the expansion of fibre networks where applicable.
- $5 million to partner with Local Government and others to create and expand public Wi-Fi networks to promote commerce, trade, education and tourism.
Member for Roe, Peter Rundle has advocated for communication tower upgrades and understands the risks of poor mobile coverage in remote and regional WA.
Power outages and fires in summer months have demonstrated the lack of battery back-up which has been an ongoing issue raised by constituents. Mobile coverage is crucial during emergencies if there are power disruptions. Ideally batteries should provide a minimum of 12 hours of back up after power loss. Over time the batteries deteriorate, and the back up time diminishes and eventually needs replacement.
Mr Rundle said during the 2015 Esperance fires, the Cascade community was under threat and the lack of mobile reception inhibited efforts to manage the situation. Cascade residents also face ongoing interruptions to communications especially during hot summer months which impact their farming and family businesses.
“Prioritising this funding will bring greater certainty to a community that deserves safe and strong communication channels in their homes and workplaces,” he said.
“The Cascade community has been calling for the delivery of a new tower for many years and I support their call for change.
“The existing Cascade tower only services an area 12 kilometres north of Cascade leaving many residents with little or no reception.
“When completed, the initiative will enhance mobile reception safeguarding this area in future emergency situations and bringing mobile reception up to an acceptable standard for a liveable community.”
The farming community in north Cascade contributes significantly to the local and State economy, as a reliable producer of broadacre grain and livestock. Farmers in this area trying to operate businesses effectively while also caring for their family and livestock deserve access to a better standard of mobile service to help them continue their business and lifestyle.
Mr Rundle said the State Government has ignored the pleas of the Cascade and Beaumont community for too long and it is time they were brought into line with other regional areas with reliable telecommunications.
“Living and working in remote and rural areas can be challenging at the best of times but one thing every community deserves in regional WA is access to good telecommunications. I know this commitment is a strong step in the right direction,” he said.