TWO telecommunications towers proposed for Two Rocks could improve mobile network coverage, but a provider says there will never be “blanket coverage”.
Telstra area manager Boyd Brown attended the Two Rocks Yanchep Residents Association’s October meeting to hear residents’ concerns about mobile service coverage in the area.
Mr Brown said Telstra has plans to install two towers in Two Rocks in the next six months – one at the Telstra exchange beside the Phil Renkin Recreation Centre and the other in the southern part of the suburb.
He said coverage centred on areas with denser populations.
“We will never have blanket coverage,” he said.
Mr Brown said a variety of factors could affect signal strength, including the age of a handset and the settings it had.
“Sometimes what you might find is switching the settings between 4G and 3G might be beneficial,” he said.
“3G might have four bars when 4G has one or two bars.”
Mr Brown said the way people used mobile phones had changed, with 99 per cent of use for phone calls 10 years ago.
“Now it’s 99 per cent data and 1 per cent phone calls,” he said.
“If you’ve got a good Wi-Fi network in the house, with newer phones you can set them to Wi-Fi calling.
“There are some things you can use in the home to improve the coverage.”
Mr Brown said customers could buy a Tesltra-approved device to improve the signal, and, when later asked about the cost, told residents it was about $960.
“We’ve had quite a few people, particularly down in Alkimos, who were using the illegal devices – they have an adverse effect on the network,” he said.
“One or two of those devices can have a huge detrimental effect to the base station.”
Asked about the radius of towers, he said in Perth it was usually about 5-10km, although there could be signal to send a text or make a call up to 50km away in some instances.
Resident Allan Chapman, who did an informal survey about poor coverage with neighbours earlier this year, said he lived about 2km from a tower.
“You would like to think that the towers that send the signal go farther than 2km,” he said.
His wife Lyn asked why customers should have to pay an extra on top of their bills for a Telstra-approved aerial to fix the coverage issues.
Mr Brown said residents who did not like his suggestions were “free to shop” for other providers.
He said other areas with similar coverage issues included Baldivis and outer growth areas.
“Infrastructure is a bit behind where we need to be,” he said.
“It can take years to get approvals (for towers) to put it where we want it.
“They will provide infill to existing sites that are here.
“What we want to do it build it out so we’ve got a more robust system.”
Asked why customers were not told whether they would have signal at home before signing a contract, Mr Boyd said staff were trained to do those checks.
City of Wanneroo recently revised its telecommunications infrastructure policy to add a requirement that such infrastructure be considered when preparing structure plans for new developments.
Representatives from Pearce MHR Christian Porter’s office also attended the association’s September and October meetings to hear residents’ concerns and investigate solutions.