Numeralla and District Activities Incorporated (NDAI) have strong concerns that under the Round 1 Mobile Black Spot Program, it appears a mobile phone tower is to be constructed within Numeralla Village. Funding for Numeralla’s black spot elimination was announced in April 2015, with construction now apparently scheduled in 2017. As far as NDAI can ascertain, Telstra and the Mobile Phone Black Spot Committee (MBSC) have not properly evaluated alternate sites, if at all, and to date have not engaged the local community in any discussion.
With a Federal election in train, why can’t we get a commitment from our Eden Monaro candidates, Telstra or the MBSC to properly investigate what appears to be a cost effective equitable investment of OUR tax dollars at a site known as the Hangman, 6.5 km north of the Village?
A Village site in the base of the valley will serve just the immediate Village environs, no doubt ‘ticking’ the black spot box and serving a political agenda. However, there appears to be two logical alternate sites that can achieve greater coverage with subjectively far greater value for their associated expenditure:
- A new tower at the Hangman. This site would serve large parts of the District, up to a 40 km radius, serving up to 10 times the number of residents that a Village tower would serve
- Co-locate with no additional tower construction costs on the existing NBN tower 2.3 km from the Village, serving perhaps 50 additional residents, compared to a Village tower
The proposed location in the Numeralla Village does not meet the needs of the larger community, ignoring large swathes of potential users, residents, itinerant campers, tourists and workers alike. A tower at the Hangman would appear to effectively address large parts of other identified District black spots such as Jerangle, Peak View, Badja, Countegany, Tuross, Carlaminda, and Rose Valley. In addition, it would reach the Monaro Highway to the west to parts of Murrumbucca and beyond.
Further, the Hangman site would dramatically improve emergency communication capability across the District. The District for the most part has no Bega based ABC AM reception, our designated emergency broadcaster. During times of emergency, effective communication is an ongoing challenge. Response and management of the relatively recent Yarrabin Bush Fire in the District suffered due to poor communication. Incidents requiring detouring Monaro Highway traffic result in significant numbers of vehicles using Peak View Road north of Numeralla and the Cooma Numeralla Road, often at night in poor conditions. Peak View Road is a largely unsealed, winding and narrow road about 40 km long with a heavy wildlife presence and no current mobile phone coverage, nor would it be covered by a Village or NBN phone tower. Then there are the incidents that occur in the bush and paddock that speedy communication can assist alleviating. Not to mention the NSW Ambulance’ use of mobile phones for transmission of ECG data that improves the survivability of patients with heart condition by enabling preliminary treatment enroute.
It should be noted that phone communication is not one way, effective, equitable communication infrastructure benefits the entire community, not just those living in remote areas, communication is two way and benefits those at both ends of the dialogue.
The Hangman site will no doubt cost more to implement than either the Village or NBN site due to provision of electrical power, site tenure and access. NDAI believes the additional expenditure up front is justified due to the dramatically increased coverage that the site offers, and offers straight away. When will the rest of the District black spots be addressed if this opportunity is missed now?
NDAI believes that siting the tower at the Hangman will result in significantly greater mobile phone coverage and a net cost benefit. NDAI therefore requests that the Hangman site be fully evaluated as a site for the mobile phone tower, and if it’s found not viable, explain why not.