While you're here, fix our mobile signal: Vic

While you're here, fix our mobile signal: Vic

Summary: Victoria's newly installed technology minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips, has said that the Commonwealth Government needs to act to improve the state's regional mobile coverage.

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Victoria's newly installed technology minister, Gordon Rich-Phillips, has said that the Commonwealth Government needs to act to improve the state's regional mobile coverage.

When the Coalition Government took power late last year, Premier Ted Baillieu told ZDNet Australia that Victorians should not have to fund the roll-out of the NBN if they didn't have access to basic services like mobile phone coverage.

"Before taxpayers fund an NBN, basic services such as mobile phone reception in many regional and metropolitan areas of Victoria should be addressed and improved wherever possible. A Coalition government will work closely with service providers and consult with the community, especially in regional Victoria, to improve services," Baillieu said in December.

Now, it seems that the onus for improving mobile networks has been shifted to the Commonwealth Government, according to remarks by Rich-Phillips in an email interview with ZDNet Australia.

"The Commonwealth Government has primary responsibility for ensuring there is adequate mobile phone coverage across Australia. Mobile phone coverage during emergency situations is of particular concern to the government," he said.

Rich-Phillips said that while the new government recognises the benefits of the NBN, it remains concerned as to the cost of the network.

"We are concerned that broadband users and taxpayers may pay too much for the Commonwealth's National Broadband Network. We want to ensure the NBN does not undermine competition in the broadband market, particularly around enabling new technologies and new telecommunications providers competing on merit," Rich-Phillips said, adding that the Commonwealth Government ought to be responsible for ensuring there is adequate coverage across Australia.

However, Rich-Phillips still thinks it would contribute positively to the state's IT sector.

"Clearly having the NBN National Operations Centre located in Melbourne helps Victorian companies get access to supply contracts. A few weeks ago, the NBN Co awarded contracts worth $1.3 billion to Victorian-based companies. We want to see this grow," he said.

Last week, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy urged the Baillieu Government not to stifle the growth of Victoria's IT sector. Rich-Phillips said he has no such intention, but instead plans to drive greater value from whole-of-government IT contracts.

"Victoria has a strong and vibrant ICT industry and is home to businesses as diverse as ISPs and niche software developers. As part of this, the government recognises the transformative nature of technology across society and business — particularly the positive impact that ICT can play in enabling business innovation and productivity," Rich-Phillips said.

"We also recognise that technology has the potential to significantly change the way the government engages with the community and delivers its services. We're keen to ensure that all sectors of the economy are using technology effectively and are aware of key technological developments," he added.

Topics: Government, Broadband, Government AU, NBN

Luke Hopewell

About Luke Hopewell

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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Talkback

5 comments
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  • I totally agree with fixing the mobile coverage and it is not just Victoria that has a problem. I live in Queensland about 100k from Brisbaen and except for a few trees I would be able to see Brisbane. According to the Tesltra maps I am within the good coverage area and should have no problems, with'should' being the operative word. I recently swapped over to Telstra hoping for better mobile coverage only to find I now have poorer recepting than I had with 3 and my partners Optus mobile phone. I am thinking of buying some pidgeons as I am convinced I would have better 'mobile' service from them.
    des-e46cf
  • i agree with des regarding mobile coverage in all of australia i now have next g but was better off with cdma and not as complicated.
    bryon j bartley
  • "Before taxpayers fund an NBN, basic services such as mobile phone reception in many regional and metropolitan areas of Victoria should be addressed and improved wherever possible. A Coalition government will work closely with service providers and consult with the community, especially in regional Victoria, to improve services," Baillieu said in December.

    Um, this goes totally against the Liberal/Coalition's main policy of 'let private investment and market pressure sort it out'.

    Of course I'm none to surprised that the Coalition continues to change it's mind depending on the particular subject and the political leverage they believe they may get out of it. This type of rant from the Victorian Coalition Government falls within the Federal Party policy of opposing the NBN. But in opposing the NBN in this way they have clearly highlighted the fact that the private market/investment model doesn't work.

    These are all good reasons why the Coalition isn't in power Federally and thank god that they aren't, as we would all appear to be heading back to the 1950's.

    If mobile phone coverage is a problem then blame the Coalition, after all they sold the controlling share of Telstra in order to get the budget into surplus and in doing so lost any say over where the billions of dollars of Telstra's profit would be spent.

    So Ted Ballieu and his Victorian cronies can thank their Federal counter-parts for the poor situation they are experiencing in mobile phone coverage.
    Singo79
  • Well said, Singo. My thoughts precisely.
    Quark-f7545
  • Hopefully the building of the NBN will allow new towers to be built in fringe areas at a reduced cost. Personally, I'd like to see a user powered fermocell network become viable.

    I have to agree with Singo, You can't say let the market build the NBN, while pointing at the failures of the market for mobile coverage. Tough times for the liberals belief that the market requires no gov intervention (beyond giving away billions in subsidies).
    Paul Krueger