Regional Telecommunications Project Newsletter 4 - June 2016

State of the build

The first tranche of sites under the Regional Telecommunications Project are nearing completion with the final six towers to be installed in Salmon Gums, Grass Patch, Peaceful Bay Town, Nyamup, Wilyabrup and Nilemah by June 30.

The most recent towers switched on include Highbury, Yerecoin and Bolgart in the Wheatbelt, Carnamah West and Arrino in the Mid West, Albany West, Cranbrook West and Ongerup North in the Great Southern and Molloy Island in the South West.

A total of 17 mobile base stations are completed, now providing communities with new or improved mobile coverage.

But wait, there’s more - plans for new towers announced

Reducing the number of mobile black spots in regional Western Australia is the aim of the latest telecommunications program currently underway in the State. 

The Mobile Black Spot Program will deliver 130 new or upgraded mobile base stations that will increase mobile voice and data connectivity to support the growth and prosperity of regional businesses and communities.

The rollout of mobile base stations has already begun with Ajana in the Mid West now complete and Borden, Naraling, Nabawa, Kununoppin, South Yuna, East Yuna, and Popanyinning to be operational by July 2016.

This latest program will bring the total of new mobile phone towers in regional WA to 266, as part of the State Government’s investment of more than $85 million since 2012.

Funding for MBSP has been made possible through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program, in conjunction with the Federal Government, Telstra and Vodafone.

Great Southern with greater coverage

Mobile phone coverage is continuing to expand in the Great Southern through the $45 million Regional Telecommunications Project (RTP) 

During March this year, Commerce Minister, Michael Mischin officially launched three new mobile phone base stations at an event held in Albany. 

Albany West, Cranbrook West and Ongerup North mobile base stations are now active, improving mobile coverage for local residents and travelers and expanding connectivity over agricultural areas. The three towers are among the 23 Regional Telecommunications Project (RTP) sites in Western Australia due to be activated by June 2016.

Five of the 23 sites are in the Great Southern, including a tower in Nyabing that was launched in October 2015 and one in Peaceful Bay to be completed by the end of June.

Within just a few months of the towers being switched on, they have already proved beneficial to the region with the West Cape Howe National Park rangers noticing improved mobile signal in the area courtesy of the nearby Albany West tower.

Improved mobile connectivity, especially in National Parks, can help reduce call out times and help emergency responders gain the upper hand early in the event of an incident.

Ongerup Community Resource Centre representative Dani Fuller said that local residents in Ongerup are thrilled with the new mobile coverage now available to them.

“People living north of Ongerup now have mobile reception where previously they didn’t have any coverage at all,” said Dani. ”Nowadays, mobile phones have become part of our everyday lives, and Ongerup North is better connected to the rest of the world thanks to the much-needed boost to mobile coverage.”

The new and improved mobile phone coverage, installed by Telstra, will also help support industry and businesses in the region.

The Great Southern Development Commission’s Great Southern Regional Investment Blueprint envisages that telecommunications infrastructure will encourage new developments in primary production, transport and tourism. New proposals such as tourism trails can now be integrated with digital platforms to provide visitors with information on the go, enhancing their experience.

Albany West Base Station
Albany West Base Station, by ggodsman

Albany West Mobile Base Station

Visited by Boyd Brown, Telstra Countrywide Area General Manager; Ross Thornton, Deputy Chair of the Great Southern Development Commission; the Hon Michael Mischin MLC, Minister for Commerce; and the Hon Colin Holt MLC, Member for South West Region.

Mark maps the spot in early 1900s

A mysterious item uncovered near the Albany West tower site in Bornholm is thought to be an old survey marker from around the early 1900s.

The marker, branded with the Australian Survey Corps, could have been used to create topographical maps and charts, according to the curator of the Australian Army Museum of Military Engineering at the Australian Army History Unit. 

The Australian Survey Corps was established in 1915 with just three officers and 16 soldiers, who were given the great task to start mapping Australia.

Markers were placed at the horizontal control point when the latitude and longitude coordinates were known. The location of each marker was selected so at least two others would be visible from it, making it likely that there are other markers within 3 to 10 metres of the site. 

The marker was originally estimated to be from the early 1900s, between World War 1 and 1936, when the Royal title was granted to the Corps, although further investigations about its origins are currently being undertaken by the Western Australian Department of Lands and the Royal Australian Survey Corps Association.

Survey Marker
Survey Marker, by ggodsman

Survey Marker

Australian Survey Corps (Army) marker found near Bornholm.

Survey Corps
Survey Corps, by ggodsman

Soldiers from the Australian Corps Field Survey Company

From the Australian War Memorial.

Molloy Island, part of the mainland now

Molloy Island need not feel isolated anymore following the Telstra’s co-location of mobile telecommunications equipment on the tower that also provides NBN fixed wireless coverage to the community.

The island, located in the middle of the Blackwood River, upstream from Augusta is home to about 100 permanent residents with that number swelling during school holidays, Christmas and Easter when holiday house owners venture back for the seclusion and tranquility. But seclusion needn’t mean patchy or no mobile phone reception for residents and visitors.

Glenn Edwards, Molloy Island Home Owner Association president says, “We’ve gone from zero to hero with this new tower.” 

“Gone are the days of patchy connection, instead we have a reliable new system that may rival or even surpass what’s available in the city.”

Mr. Edwards explained that although Molloy Island is residential only, having the enhanced telecommunication network certainly gives residents a greater peace of mind for emergency purposes.

The new tower encompasses Molloy Island and the surrounding area, providing continuous connectivity between the island and neighbouring towns. 

“I now just have to remember to take my phone with me whenever I go out,” joked Mr. Edwards.

The islands locals who attended the launch of the Molloy Island Mobile Base Station were so excited about their newly found mobile coverage that they put on a feast to mark the event including a phone tower-themed cake.

Phone Tower Cake
Phone Tower Cake, by ggodsman

Mobile phone tower cake

Made by the residents of Molloy Island.

Molloy Island Launch
Molloy Island Launch, by ggodsman

Molloy Island mobile tower launch guests

LtoR: Kylie Kennaugh - Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, Supt. Geoff Maloney - Western Australian Police, Hon. Terry Redman MLA - Minister for Regional Development, Boyd Brown - Telstra, Penny Griffin - Department of Commerce and Ashley Clements - South West Development Commission.

Be mindful of potential data overuse and bill shock 

Using more than your monthly allowance - whether it's through more data (accessing the web, emails, apps, music etc. from your phone), making more or different types of calls, using your phone abroad or being a victim of phone theft - can all result in a bigger bill. 

Mobile phones users should be aware of the risk of data overuse and bill shock. To help, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has released an easy-to-use infographic, showing five ways to avoid overuse and bill shock, when using a phone on a high-speed 4G/LTE mobile network. 

Data Overuse
Data Overuse, by ggodsman

Data charges

Take control!

Experience WA smartphone app

Brought to you by Tourism Western Australia and launched late last year, the new mobile app ‘Experience WA’ shows you the best of the west – all at the touch of your smartphone.

From essential information to customised inspiration, you’ll be set for anything, from a half-day’s fun to a holiday full of extraordinary sights and adventures.

Live in WA? It’s the perfect guide to discovering something new in your own backyard.

Just visiting? Use the app to plan and enjoy your visit. With thousands of places to see, explore, eat, drink and stay at your fingertips, you can look for something nearby or find out what events are on, and check out tours to some of the world’s most extraordinary locations.

Need to be inspired? Just tell the app how you’re feeling and let the ‘Inspire Me’ feature offer ideas to suit your mood. It’s all here. So all you need to do is choose.

The app will provide information on the:

  • South West – including Margaret River, Denmark and Albany;
  • Coral Coast – including Ningaloo Reef, The Pinnacles and Monkey Mia;
  • Golden Outback – including Wave Rock, Kalgoorlie and Esperance;
  • North West – including Broome, Karijini National Park and the Bungle Bungle Range; and
  • Perth.
Experience WA
Experience WA, by ggodsman

Experience WA

Download the free app today.

Information at your fingertips

Have key information and maps at your fingertips, with no roaming data required. 

Experience WA is FREE 

Download the free app today

Visit our regional telecommunications section on the website.

Industry Development
Last updated 07 Jun 2016

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