Public Meeting with Telstra

Living in Cherry Gardens on the fringe of metropolitan Adelaide, so many of us struggle with getting a decent and reliable mobile phone signal, NBN coverage and ADSL Internet service.

The Cherry Chatter committee has long complained to both our federal and state politicians as well as to some of the telco’s. As you may remember we protested the inferior NBN Fixed Wireless service that was proposed (and eventually installed anyway).

So after many false starts we were pleased that Steve Murray (our local state MP) was able to arrange a representative from Telstra to meet with us and any interested locals to discuss our many concerns and complaints. This meeting was held at the hall on Wednesday 30th January and had a good number of locals and representatives from Steve’s office, Tim Whetstone (State Minister for Regional Development and Primary Industries) and Mark Bolton from Telstra.

Steve and Tim both gave some background to the concerns raised and details of why Cherry Gardens is not considered a “Black Spot” under the commonwealth program due to us being considered a “Grey” area due to the fact that we have some service be it poor coverage and unreliable. This then means that we cannot and have not been able to access any Black Spot funding to improve the service in our area.

Each attendee from Cherry Gardens was invited to provide their feedback and the issues that they faced. There were a few people who sent in emails or comments but were apologies to the meeting and their issues were also represented. The key issues or complaints were:

  • Damaged covers on telco pits which are a hazard on the road verges/footpaths

  • Poor and unreliable copper line issues which are affected by rain and moisture and result in unreliable landline phones and ADSL internet services

  • Poor mobile phone coverage through the district particularly once you get just off the main road. This includes the Recreation ground. The CFS raised the issue that they often have to rely on mobile phones as well and can find themselves without any means to communicate

  • Poor NBN service with limited coverage for the district

  • Poor service from Telstra on maintaining the infrastructure

Mark did his best to respond to these issues and the take aways were:

  • He will arrange to get the covers for the pits replaced/repaired as a matter of urgency (safety issue)

  • Telstra is responsible to maintenance of landlines and he will get the engineers to review and look at what can be done to respond to our reported issues

  • Improving the mobile phone coverage is simply a matter of having money available to install additional infrastructure. Mark has asked that we map the district so that Telstra know where the poor coverage areas are. Everyone at the meeting provided addresses and what coverage issues we had. Steve Murray is the collector of this information and is creating the map and will forward to Telstra. What Mark has committed to do is get engineers to come up with some potential options that could address some regions. If you want to contact Steve Murray’s office then either send an email or phone on 82705122

  • Mark pointed out that there were some mobile phones that give better coverage than others and residents should do some research on what is the best phone to use. New phones are generally better than older ones.

  • Mark will investigate whether it is possible to use other towers in the district to improve coverage

  • Mark said one option that residents can take is to purchase a Telstra Go (TGo) booster for the house. This can be installed on the roof of a house and turn a small signal into a good reliable signal but with a limited radius of improved service within a house. It can be purchased outright or added to a phone plan.

  • Although Telstra is not the NBN provider he did agree to discuss with NBN but he was not particularly hopeful that the NBN would invest in further towers or infrastructure. The only option is really to go with the Satellite NBN

  • Tim Whetstone also agreed that from the State Government side he will try to get some funding to improve infrastructure and in particular try to get some funding from the Federal Regional Growth fund

It was a start, it was good to have someone from Telstra listen to us and for both Steve Murray and Tim Whetstone hear about our issues first hand from a group of local residents rather than just from the Cherry Chatter group.

Hopefully something can come out of this meeting and I would encourage all residents to contact Steve Murray and provide him with your address and your mobile and NBN coverage issues.