RESIDENTS plagued by bad telecommunications around Somerville have accused the federal government of ignoring the issue and say the lack of reception is affecting every aspect of their lives.
Robin Kent, who lives in the Hedgeley Dean Estate, off Bungower Road, said anyone living in the area had to deal with phone calls dropping out and, sometimes, no reception.
Kent said her complaints to the former MP for Flinders Greg Hunt went nowhere after he tabled a residents’ petition in Parliament in 2019.
“You can’t live like this, it affects every aspect of your life, work, social connections, everything. Some days we can’t make phone calls, on others it drops out four or five times in a call,” she said.
“We don’t know what’s happening, nobody seems to want to do anything about this appalling situation.
“I’d like for all the people affected to simply have reception. Whether it requires another tower I don’t know, but it’s a known black spot. We are paying for a service we don’t get.”
In its Advocacy Strategy 2022, Mornington Peninsula Shire says it is asking for government money to improve mobile coverage at Tuerong, Dromana/Arthurs Seat, Red Hill, Main Ridge, Balnarring Beach, Somers, Cape Schanck, Flinders, Shoreham and Point Leo. Somerville is not mentioned.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowlands said $16.2 million from the federal and state governments had last year been awarded to mobile network operators and infrastructure providers across Victoria, including the Mornington Peninsula.
The Albanese government has also announced more than $1 billion to improve the National Broadband Network and to support co-investment programs such as the Regional Connectivity Program.
As of 2 August 1040 base stations were completed under the mobile black spot program, including one at Merricks that went live in February.
Rowlands said Somerville had been added to “a central register of locations” that had been the subject of complaints about poor or non-existent mobile coverage.
“This register is made available to all bidders for their consideration when applying for funding under government programs aimed at improving mobile coverage across Australia,” she said.
Telstra has four mobile base stations in the Somerville area.
Regional general manager for Victoria Jenny Gray said mobile reception could be impacted by a range of factors such as distance from a tower, type of handset being used, types of building materials, terrain and tall trees.
“In general, the community of Somerville is well covered by the Telstra network with 3G, 4G and in some places, 5G. However, demand on our network continues to grow each year and we know there are some areas where coverage and network performance may not be as good as other places,” she said.
“Next year Telstra is planning to upgrade 4G capacity and also add 5G coverage to one of our main base stations in the area, which should help improve network performance for Telstra customers.”
MP for Flinders Zoe McKenzie said she would continue advocating for better coverage on the peninsula.
“Since declaration of the polls in late June, my team and I have met with Optus, Telstra and began conversations with NBN regarding the upgrades that are scheduled for the Mornington Peninsula, particularly around Somerville and Hastings,” she said.
McKenzie said upgrades were underway in Sorrento, Mount Martha and through small cell technology from Portsea to Safety Beach.
“I have also written to the Minister for Communications to seek assurance that the improvements promised to the mobile base stations in Merricks North, Mount Martha, Sorrento north, St Andrews Beach and Tootgarook were still going ahead.”