Around eighty locals gathered last Friday at the Upper Horton Sports Club to talk about solutions for the lack of mobile coverage in the Upper Horton. Barnaby Joyce, the Member for New England, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Deputy Prime Minister to address locals concerned about the issue. The meeting was also addressed by Michael Marom, the Regional Australia Northern NSW Principal for Telstra.
Telstra has proposed the installation of a 4GX Small Cell to provide improved coverage at the Upper Horton village. This would be located at the corner of Arndell and Dunnee Streets. There is an indicative pricing of around $100,000, with Telstra contributing $50,000. Another $50,000 contribution needs to be found. The coverage of this type of tower is small, and would cover the village only. A large tower with different technology isneeded to cover the wider area.
Mr Marom detailed the costs of a tower that could cover the whole valley and explained some of the logistical issues including the need to have mains power at the site of any tower. Mr Marom was positive about a small cell solution, saying, “The small cell looks like it will probably get happening in the future. A tower is a long way away.”
Commenting on how the meeting went Mr Joyce said, “I think it’s positive. We’ve put money on the table before and I think we’re going to have put money on the table again and the issue has always been trying to get matching contributions from one of the Telcos. To have Telstra here is a lot more encouraging. I’ve already spoken to the Minster whilst I was there about the $50,000. I think we should be able to get that without any problems, in fact I’m almost certain about it.” Mr Joyce went on to say there is however a diligent process that must be followed to approve funds.
“The tower here won’t make money, it will provide a service. But if you only put them in where you made money you’d only have them in Sydney,” Mr Joyce pointed out.
Arthur McDouall, of “Cooloola” and “Eungai”, Upper Horton, was instrumental in arranging the meeting at the Club. Mr McDouall says he is always pushing the case for improved mobile coverage. He says there is a long-standing need for better communications in the area, and he was very pleased Mr Joyce and Mr Marom offered to address locals about the subject.
A detailed feasibility study will be needed before a small cell can be installed. By Jane Harris