“In a word, it’s crap,” replied Frances Hotel Motel proprietor Ken Montgomery when asked about the mobile reception at Frances.
Even though Frances has a Telstra tower right beside the pub Ken runs with his wife Anne, its signal is so weak that someone travelling to Naracoorte via Boddingtons Road would have their reception cut out five kilometres down the track.
“When we had the grand final of footy out here, nobody could get any mobile access because it just overloaded from the amount of phone users, the bandwidth couldn’t handle it,” Ken said.
“You couldn’t even get a Triple 00 call out. It’s a matter of public safety.”
At the pub itself, the faulty reception has meant that they have had to add an external aerial to their business.
The gaming machines at the pub used to be run on a modem, before the IGC (Independent Gaming Commission) switched to wireless.
The signal at the tower was so poor that an aerial at the back of the machines weren’t strong enough to pick it up, and when the technician came out to install the aerial on the roof, it initially picked up the signal at the tower on Gap Road rather than the town’s tower.
For Ken, it’s essential that the tower receives an upgrade from a 3G to a 4G.
“It’s all a matter of funding it to make it stronger,” he said.
“It’s ridiculous that you can’t get a signal from five kilometres away.”
Liberal candidate Nick McBride has visited the area, and has made fixing mobile blackspots a high priority in his campaign, and a promise if he gets in office.
“There are several mobile blackspots in the South East, particularly at Furner, Frances and surrounding areas, the Keilira region and the Sherwood and Ngarkat region,” Mr McBride said.
“During this hot summer weather, the community needs reliable mobile phone coverage to reach emergency services if needed, and to ensure they can check on the wellbeing of family, friends and neighbours.”
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