The greatest black hole in the universe is how Michael Donnelley describes mobile phone connection at the Country Inn Motel in Kyogle.
“The tower at Highfield creates a shadow,” Mr Donnelley said.
He also runs the Kyogle Motel across the road and the connection there is fine, but at the Country Inn it is an unknown, he said.
“We’ve put extra Wi-Fi boosters in the office and we muddle along with it.”
He wants to see another communications tower erected at the Boral Timber site.
Kyogle Chamber of Business secretary Meghan Hogan who runs Scarboroughs Fashion in the main street said the internet was “very hit and miss”.
“If the internet goes down, my eftpos doesn’t work,” she said.
Resident David Page said forget about your mobile at the southern end of town near the hospital or inside a building.
“It’s a hindrance to business,” he said.
Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland said reliable and affordable high-speed internet was vital, “this is just as important in terms of infrastructure as some of the more traditional kinds like roads, bridges, footpaths and so on.
“People are making real estate purchasing decisions on a range of factors important to them and telecommunications connectivity is now one of them.”
Federal MP Kevin Hogan said mobile network operators advised that Kyogle and the surrounding area should have good 3G and 4G reception – there were eight base stations in the Kyogle LGA that have been funded under the Mobile Black Spot Program.
“There was also another Telstra site funded under Round 2 at Mount Burrell in the Kyogle LGA. This site did not proceed because of local community resistance,” he said.
“Telstra has recently upgraded its mobile coverage in Kyogle to include 5G.
“Mobile reception can be affected by buildings, trees or hills that block line of sight to the nearest base station.”
Kyogle Council general manager Graham Kennett said the Department of Communications and the Arts received nominations of regional locations with poor or no mobile coverage from members of the public.
Richmond Technology’s John Oomen said while the NBN was available to everyone, the service had downgraded certain services to make way for new ones.
“Signals travel in a straight line and the challenge in this area is in the hills – 25km from the tower is as far as they go,” Mr Oomen said.
Someone close to a tower may not get a good signal because the signal travels in straight lines over the top of them.
This is where repeater towers come in handy so the signal can bounce to where it is needed.
“Towers create a mesh system,” he said.
Mr Oomen said the phone provider and type of service people bought would affect their reception.
A sim card from Aldimobile (operating on the Telstra network) would not get priority over a more expensive Telstra card, he said.
Mr Oomen advised people to use Wi-Fi calling if they couldn’t get a decent phone signal.
He said the NBN came through cable, fixed wireless or satellite, depending on where you lived.
“It’s got to be done right,” he said and that included buying a router that isn’t cheap.
The Regional Tech Hub provides advice for people in regional areas about options for improving connectivity. The government-backed Tech Hub can be contacted on 1300 081 029 or at regionaltechhub.org. au
This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 9 June 2021.