Clyde callers waiting

Will new towers in Cranbourne East fix the area's reception issues? 244017_01

By Danielle Kutchel

Callers and internet users around Clyde, Clyde North and Cranbourne East continue to struggle to get mobile reception, despite towers in the area.

And politicians at both State and Federal levels say they’re putting pressure on telcos to fix the problem.

Earlier this year, Bass MP Jordan Crugnale began a petition to the Federal Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher – which attracted 1200 signatures – to get better reception after hearing stories of residents in emergencies unable to call police or paramedics.

Star News Group has spoken to other residents who have complained of poor reception while working from home.

In June, the Casey Council granted approval to Optus to lease space at Casey Fields for a new 5G tower, set to be completed by April 2022.

However, when questioned on the extent of coverage to be provided by the new tower, an Optus spokesperson said the site would “provide the community with 4G coverage”.

The telco did not respond to a request for the projected coverage of the tower.

In June, Ms Crugnale welcomed news of the new tower but questioned whether it would provide enough coverage for the growing area.

“My concern is, if the Vodafone tower is anything to go by, the reception radius won’t get very far into the community of Clyde and Clyde North where it is desperately needed and is a serious mobile blackspot,” she said.

A TPG spokesperson – representing Vodafone since the two companies merged – said its site at Casey Fields would be upgraded to include 5G to increase capacity and speeds.

“Subject to approvals, we are expecting this upgrade to take place later in the year,” the spokesperson said.

“We have also recently upgraded three sites to 5G within the Clyde council area, providing additional capacity at Eumemmerring, Hampton Park and Cranbourne.”

Federal La Trobe MP Jason Wood, whose electorate takes in Clyde North, said phone reception in the area had been a major issue for some time.

“I became increasingly aware of it in 2019 when residents, predominately from Clyde and Clyde North, raised issues regarding coverage,” he told Star News.

“Adequate internet and phone coverage is a necessity in 2021 which is why it is not good enough that the major telcos have ignored La Trobe, a major growth corridor, for such a long period of time.”

Mr Wood said he had “applied pressure” to the telcos, urging them to “fix this mess”.

“They ultimately have the responsibility to improve coverage as the private companies responsible for the provision of proper services.”

Telstra has recently confirmed that a new tower will be built in Casey, co-located with TPG.

Mr Wood, who has met repeatedly with Telstra, said the telco had told him there would be “additional capacity” provided in Clyde North, and that they would prioritise new mobile infrastructure in Clyde East, Clyde North and Berwick East.

Holt MP Anthony Byrne said he had been receiving complaints of lack of mobile phone reception across the electorate since 2015, and had been in “constant contact” with the City of Casey, telcos and the Federal Government to try and fix the problem.

“The Federal Government needs to provide much-needed funding for the mobile phone blackspots to telecommunication providers, the City of Casey needs to provide the planning permits, and the telecommunication providers need to build the towers,” he said.

“We have seen some new mobile phone coverage over recent months but there remains very poor mobile phone coverage in Cranbourne East, Clyde and Clyde North.

“We will continue to advocate and put pressure on the Federal Government, the City of Casey and Telecommunication providers to resolve this issue this year.

“This lack of an essential service is the most important issue affecting residents in Holt. Our mobile phone blackspots need to be fixed now.”