Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council has called on the state government to act on improving telecommunication services in the region to ensure Jamestown’s battery will be a successful tourist attraction.
The state government had allocated $227,273 in May to construct a new phone tower in Sevenhill to help improve telephone coverage in the area, but black spots still remain.
CGVC acting CEO John Coombe told the Northern Argus he had recently attended a discussion in Kadina where access to high speed internet and 4G phone reception was a hot topic for regional development over the next five to 10 years.
“Certainly internet connections or the poor quality of internet connections and black spots were up for debate and it was certainly a big issue,” he said.
“If we are looking at marketing and branding this area, then something needs to be done to make sure that this becomes a reliable place for internet and IT connections.”
Responding to Bungaree Station owner Mark Stewart’s claims that it would cost him upwards of $20,000 to install towers for NBN access, Mr Coombe believed that should not be Mr Stewart’s responsibility.
“If you are having people that are providing a service, then surely that should be their responsibility to make sure that the coverage is there for you to be able to use that service,” he said.
“That is what you are paying for, you are paying the service providers to be able to use that service.
“If they cannot guarantee that service or provide that service, then it should not have to be up to the operator to find additional money to satisfy their needs.”
Poor telecommunication services in the region could have a detrimental effect on tourism numbers, leaving Mr Coombe to label it “totally unacceptable” by the state government and service providers.
“It is extremely poor in this day and age when so much of business is transacted over the internet,” he said.
“It is not only business, it is also accessing information for potential visitors that might think ‘well this is all too hard’.
“People are going to speak poorly about that which could have a detrimental effect on future visitors or lack of future visitors.”
Mr Coombe said the unpredictability of phone reception in the Mid North was detrimental to the success of local business.
“The reception in this Mid North area is very unpredictable,” Mr Coombe said.
“It makes it extremely difficult for business’, be they tourist operators or general business or in fact mums and dads.
“It makes it very difficult and extremely frustrating.
The federal government has implemented a Mobile Black Spot Program where $220 million has been committed to improving telecommunication infrastructure in regional areas, however funding in round two was handed back to the state government.
A spokesperson for the South Australian government said (federal) funding was needed, with the third round approaching.
“Round three of the Black Spot Program is soon to be announced and we urge the federal government to listen to SA's regions and give them a fair share of mobile towers,” they said.