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Hawkesbury mobile phone users urged to identify blackspots

Jul 12, 2023

Mobile phone users in the Hawkesbury are being urged to help identify mobile blackspots in preparation for the next $20 million round of the Peri-Urban Mobile Program (PUMP) that aims to improve mobile coverage on the urban fringes.

Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, says large sections of the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury are eligible for the PUMP program, which targets areas where the bush meets the edges of suburbs.

“Poor mobile coverage is something locals consistently raise, and we know how vital it is during natural disasters,” she said.

“I strongly encourage locals to not only log their blackspots, but also have a look at the draft guidelines which we’re seeking input on, to ensure this next round of the Peri-Urban Mobile Program delivers the investment our community needs”.

Even though many communities are less than two hours from Sydney phone reception is non-existent in some areas. This was highlighted during the recent floods where some communities including St Albans and Macdonald Valley had very limited if any mobile reception. The Telstra back up battery in St Albans had to be run by a generator, with fuel brought in by helicopter.

Ms Templeman has long fought for robust and reliable telecommunications in the area saying that “lives depend on it.”

During the floods, areas with poor telecommunications including the MacDonald Valley were isolated.

“The federal government has committed to funding new mobile phone towers in in Hawkesbury Heights, Mt Tomah, Oakville, Blaxlands Ridge, Bowen Mountain, Maraylya, and Yellow Rock. Additionally, improvements to small cell sites and towers in Bilpin, Berambing, and the Macdonald Valley are in the works,” she said.

However, there remain areas that require attention due to high costs, challenging terrain, and lower population densities. To facilitate the identification of these areas, a Project Noticeboard has been established as part of the consultation process leading up to the next round of PUMP funding. Local councils, community groups, businesses, and individuals are encouraged to utilize this tool to report mobile coverage and reception issues in the peri-urban fringe.

“This new tool provides locals with the opportunity to identify and register blackspots, enabling proper allocation of resources to address them and improve connectivity. The information gathered will assist telecommunications companies and other partners in developing applications for funding,” she said.

Residents are encouraged to not only report blackspots but also review the draft guidelines currently seeking public input.

A spokesperson for Hawkesbury City Council said it will work with all providers that register as an eligible applicant under the PUMP program and provide known information as to mobile black spots in the local government area to support grant submissions.

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