Member for Central Wheatbelt Mia Davies MLA says the number of complaints received to her office about mobile phone coverage and connections has surged in recent months.
She said concerns had been coming in from York, Wyalkatchem, Konnongorring, Wongan Hills, Dowerin, Yelbini, Meckering and Trayning and had escalated considerably since September.
“If an individual has an issue with their service my office is usually able to work with Telstra to resolve the matter, and I encourage people to notify me if they have service troubles,” Ms Davies said.
“At the moment there are a number of issues that are compounding the frustrations of the community – and getting a clear answer is proving to be difficult.”
Ms Davies said there were at least three issues at play, the first relating to the ongoing challenge of filling in black-spot areas in the electorate.
“We understand that 100 per cent coverage everywhere is not possible, but The Nationals WA continue to advocate for funding from State and Federal governments to expand and enhance reception where it is patchy or non-existent,” she said.
“I always encourage people to make sure my office is aware of areas that still require coverage so we can keep them front of mind when funding does become available.”
Secondly, there’s been a spike in complaints that calls to mobile devices continually drop out with a notification ‘the phone number you have called is not connected, please try again’.
“I’ve experienced this myself when in an area with reception, connected and talking. It suddenly drops out and you have to call the person back – sometimes three to four times,” Ms Davies said.
“Aside from being frustrating, it’s no doubt expensive because you’re re-dialling multiple times. I’ve raised these issues with Telstra’s regional manager in person and in writing and am waiting on advice as to the situation.”
The other issue relates to service disruption due to planned or unplanned power outages impacting the operation of mobile phone towers, which in turn impacts business and community safety.
“Any sustained power outage issues put pressure on the network as not every site has back-up. For those that do, back-up batteries can run down and generators use up their fuel,” Ms Davies said.
“Community safety is also put at risk. In Wyalkatchem the phone tower’s back-up power supply is supposed to last eight hours but was exhausted in just two the last time an outage occurred.”
Ms Davies said in the case of emergencies, communities may be put at risk because emergency service personnel like paramedics, fire fighters and SES could be uncontactable.