Mobile service failing Armstrong Creek residents

Corangamite MP Libby Coker held a virtual community meeting last week to hear Armstrong Creek residents' concerns about mobile phone service coverage. (Supplied)

Ash Bolt

Mobile phone service in Armstrong Creek, Warralily and Mt Duneed is failing residents, according to Corangamite MP Libby Coker.

Ms Coker held a virtual community meeting with shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland last week, where more than 80 Armstrong Creek residents shared their concerns.

It followed a petition started by Ms Coker for improved mobile services, which had been signed by more than 400 people.

“Attendance at last [week]’s meeting just reflected the level of frustration. I felt like I was opening a hornets’ nest as story after story came out about mobile phone failures,” Ms Coker said.

She said the pandemic had exacerbated the problem because many people were now working from home or home schooling with unreliable or non-existent mobile connectivity.

“For some people it was more than simply frustrating; it was a matter of life or death,” Ms Coker said.

“One woman shared her emotional story of a medical emergency where her husband had collapsed needing an ambulance.

“Hearing the instructions over the phone from a triple-zero paramedic while waiting for the ambulance was impossible. The woman, a neighbour and a bricky who’d been working across the road all tried unsuccessfully to get usable coverage on their phones.

“It’s telling that all were on difference mobile networks, so all three networks failed their customers.

“Thankfully the husband did get to hospital and is now fine. But the couple live in fear of a reoccurrence.

“My office has been getting complaints about poor mobile phone coverage and frequent call drop-outs around Armstrong Creek and Mt Duneed for some time.

“Often people can only get coverage out the front of their house, or in one particular room. Some streets seem to be ‘dead’ zones for coverage, when the rest of the suburb gets coverage.

“My own phone calls drop out often as I’m driving about Armstrong Creek on official business. It’s frustrating and shouldn’t be the case in such a rapidly populating urban area.

“Clearly the problem is serious and widespread. The telcos are not keeping up with the population and housing growth in the area and the resulting demand for mobile services.”

Ms Coker said telcos must fast-track mobile tower roll-outs to better service Armstrong Creek.

“Not only do we need to find solutions to the Armstrong Creek issues, we must ensure that ‘mobile phone catch up’ doesn’t become an issue for other urban growth areas,” she said.

“Better forward planning is crucial.

“I’ll be taking people’s individual concerns directly to the management of the three big mobile phone carriers and raising the broader issues in parliament.

“Importantly, the federal government needs to have robust policy that results in better mobile services for local communities.”