Dial up funds

By Thomas Moir

Funding and infrastructure is being sought to ensure Katandra West’s sub-par mobile connectivity enters the 21st century, amid renewed calls for a much-needed modern day service.

State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed argued the town needed a phone tower and nothing less to ensure residents were adequately connected, and was confident it is now on the Victorian Government’s radar.

Katandra residents sat down this week with Victorian Innovation Minister Philip Dalidakis to emphasise the need for improved mobile infrastructure.

Following the meeting, Katandra West General Store owner Leanne Ireland remained confident the town’s telecommunications woes were being transmitted, loud and clear.

Ms Ireland said signal drop outs could place residents in ‘‘dangerous situations’’ during emergencies.

She said a small cell tower recently installed in the town was welcome and had made a big improvement to reception in the central township, but not the broader district.

‘‘Two kilometres out, it makes no difference,’’ she said.

‘‘Our community is larger than just those that live in town.’’

Ms Ireland believed potential tower locations existed to ensure surrounding areas also benefited.

‘‘We’d now like to see some state funding as well,’’ she said.

‘‘We do like to think the squeaky wheel gets fixed ... and we’ll keep squeaking until it does get fixed.’’

Ms Sheed invited Mr Dalidakis to meet with residents primarily to explain ‘‘what it’s like being a bit out of town and not connected and how important it is to them’’.

‘‘And the minister’s responded very positively,’’ Ms Sheed said.

‘‘And I certainly hope we’ll get some traction there as the months go on.’’

Ms Sheed understood sometimes while travelling there were occasions a mobile signal might drop out.

‘‘But when it’s where someone lives or works, it’s a different scenario,’’ she said.

Asked what the ideal outcome would be, Ms Sheed said a tower was the ideal outcome for Katandra West in the long run.

‘‘They’ve been rolled out across the country ... we know that’s happening and the technology is there to address these problems,’’ she said.

‘‘So, that’s what I’ve been asking the minister to do.’’

Ms Ireland said the signal dropped out all the time, adding that some residents had in the past come into town to send messages.

Katandra’s new community plan is in its final stages, with boosting mobile connectivity again a priority. But following this week’s sit down, Ms Ireland remained hopeful the town would hear something in the coming months before the new plan comes to council.

She said a modern level of connectivity was a bare essential for the town if it wanted to attract new residents and retain people.

Typically those considering a move to the area ask Ms Ireland three key questions about the town: ‘‘What is the mobile reception like, the internet and how safe is the town,’’ she said.

‘‘If we want to attract young people, we need to have those facilities.

‘‘And if we want to retain young families, we need them as well.’’