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The Regional Mobile Communications Project has improved mobile communications in almost every region of Western Australia. Here's how the community is benefitting.
Wendy Duncan MLA, Member for Kalgoorlie
Before the Regional Mobile Telecommunications Project there was no mobile phone coverage between Norseman and the South Australian border, something that the Eyre Highway operators raised with me as their number one issue every time I visited. Imagine how thrilled I was to receive a text message from the organiser of the Chasing the Sun Festival – a golf tournament on the world’s longest golf course from Ceduna to Kalgoorlie – informing of the excitement at Balladonia when the tower was switched on.
The towers in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands are just as welcome. Not only do they improve communication and community safety but they have an important educational outcome as well. The kids in the Lands now have mobile phones and iPads and realise that they need to know their letters and numbers to be able to use them. The technology has changed their lives for the better.
Wendy Newman, Chief Executive Officer, Wheatbelt Development Commission
The Regional Mobile Communications Project has resulted in direct benefits to Wheatbelt communities and their businesses. 17 new mobile towers have unlocked social networking and economic capabilities for regional communities. The reach of the new mobile signal has connected local residents together on digital platforms, not previously accessible, enabling better sharing of events, ideas and collaboration. General access to health and emergency services has increased, saving the community valuable time and resources. The Wheatbelt Development Commission is proud to have worked with its 43 local governments and the Department of Commerce to roll out such critical infrastructure to the region.
Silvio Brenzi, A/Chief Executive Officer, Shire of Yalgoo
Since June 2014, the mobile phone tower in Yalgoo has contributed to numerous benefits within the township and beyond.
One major improvement has been our business activities within the shire administration. The ability to contact staff and contractors via phone, text message and e-mail, inside and outside the township has increased efficiencies. These services are all available in real time and limit the delay in reaching people and organisations. Outside staff also benefit in a smaller way by being able to contact the office or supervisors for direction or safety reasons. Reception zones are fairly confined to the town site but certain elevated sites outside of town do have the ability to transmit and receive calls and service. Other than locals benefiting from the mobile service, tourists, particularly those staying at the local caravan park, make use of the mobile service. It enables them to keep in contact with family and friends whilst on holiday. This has been recognised by the Park Managers who receive many favourable comments regarding the new access to the internet and social media sites associated with caravanning and touring.
Belinda Knight, Chief Executive Officer, Shire of Woodanilling
The Regional Mobile Communications Tower project for Woodanilling has brought our small community into the 21st century with a flourish. The day the tower was commissioned was one of those moments people will remember what they were doing – maybe not along the lines of major moments in history, but it was historical for Woodanilling. It was the most amazing thing when it was turned on – I think everyone with a mobile phone called everyone else with a mobile phone to tell them. I know from an outsider’s point of view this is not a huge thing – but for us it is like discovering flight – we have been without for so long, and now we are not. Our wireless internet connection is amazingly fast and we get full signal in the house. Now all we have to do is educate people that we CAN answer our mobile phones – so they don’t have to ring twice, hang up and wait for us to call them back. We have lived for so long with only being able to send or receive SMS, now that we can have access to telephone, SMS, MMS, emails and other applications on smart phones, we really did not appreciate how much benefit modern communications can be. Our sporting clubs now have full signal at our oval, so if there is an injury or a requirement for urgent medical attention, anyone with a mobile phone can call for help. This was always a concern in the past, as the only way to call for help was to use a landline or drive 10km out of town to get mobile phone reception. The shire has also installed a Community First Responder System at the recreation centre. This would not have been possible without the new tower built. This system is available to be used for any emergency 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and provides the community with some reassurance that until the Paramedics arrive, there is another system that may save a life. Our local post office can now process more mail electronically, including recording and emailing customers when parcels are awaiting collection.
This project and the Royalties for Regions funding has provided Woodanilling with a service to rival other much larger towns, and our community is very appreciative.
Ron Penn, General Manager, Linley Valley Pork
Linley Valley Pork is a large fresh pork supplier in Western Australia servicing many domestic and export markets. The new mobile coverage is now improving productivity at the company’s Mogumber Piggery site. Since the mobile tower was switched on late 2013, not only has the business noticed a marked increase in internet access speed, but they are now using mobile devices to connect more efficiently and quickly to the internet from around the farm. The farm is now able to be connected to the overseas technical support team who link to the equipment in any shed on the farm to perform upgrades or repairs using computer software packages for remote control, desktop sharing, online meetings, web conferencing and file transfer between computers. Other benefits include being able to send SMS alerts if any alarms are triggered in the system and accessing the Electronic Sow Feeding System remotely, including improving online staff training. Since the mobile tower was switched on it has improved how the farm staff are informed and educated by accessing industry web seminars and the like.
Mogumber Holdings Pty Ltd
The North Gingin Regional Mobile Communication tower was constructed in Red Gully in December 2012 and the service was switched on in mid to late 2013. The installation of this new digital service addresses a previous mobile communications black spot on Brand Highway has meant a number of positive outcomes and cost savings for two businesses operating on the Mogumber Holdings property on Fynes Road, Red Gully.
Mogumber Holdings is an agribusiness that breeds Black Angus cattle and has directly benefited from the new digital service. Mobile telecommunications coverage has increased from 1 signal bar to 5 bars enabling business to be conducted from anywhere on the farm. 100% mobile coverage has enabled the agribusiness to disconnect its telephone landline and migrate across to mobile platforms allowing cost savings for telecommunications. Business is no longer interrupted while utilising mobile services. The 3G network internet speed is much greater than the previously used satellite service making business more efficient. New technologies, including tablets and smart phones, have been adopted by older members of the business. This has also been enabled through capacity building provided by younger, skilled users. Smart device applications now utilised include banking, email, weather and other agri-business related research and monitoring.
Carol Redford, Stargazers Club WA
Stargazers Club WA is an online business in Gingin where the new digital Regional Mobile Telecommunications Project tower service is critical.
Since its installation there have been changes in how the business is being run, such as, 3G network internet speed allows for easy website content management and membership processing for the business, e-Commerce and banking is being utilised which is essential to the business and it is now far easier. Communications, including voice, social media and email can now be utilised from tablets and smart phone devices from anywhere on the property, enabling multi-tasking between businesses. Stargazers Club now has access to an internet and communications environment that is considered standard by the Australian small business sector.
Peter Westgate, A/Regional Manager, Department of Transport
The increase in mobile phone coverage along Highway 1 within the Kimberley Region of Western Australia has provided some great feedback from emergency services, residents and businesses to the Department of Transport. For example:
- A single care rollover accident occurred about 80km from Fitzgroy Crossing in early November. Traffic is much quieter around that time of year, so when a rare passing vehicle came by, they stopped and offered immediate assistance and was able to telephone ambulance and police directly who were able to respond immediately. The reduced call-out time was crucial to the injured 2 people involved in the rollover.
- The DoT regularly have staff travelling across the Kimberley. On 1 November our team were approximately 60-70km West of Fitzroy Crossing when a road train approaching them was on fire and the driver seemed unaware. The DoT Officer called him on radio to advise him. He was concerned if he stopped, the fire would engulf the truck. Police and fire services where called and sent out to the approaching truck. Normally mobile range is approximately 15km from Fitzroy which is a huge improvement. Three large trailers on the back of the truck were saved from being engulfed in flames.
- The owner/operator of Port Smith Caravan Park is 150km south of Broome and has never had mobile coverage prior to RMCP. On one of their regular trips to Broome for supplies, the owner stopped on the highway to offer assistance to an elderly couple who had pulled over because the male driver was having severe chest pains. An immediate mobile phone call to the ambulance service was made enabling the man to be treated much sooner, potentially saving his life.
- DoT has a new remote licensing team that visits remote communities. The new RMCP mobile service has meant we can now deliver transport licensing services in communities where we couldn’t before, for example Pandanus Park 60km from Derby. This means that residents do not have to travel all the way into town to renew their licenses.
- Since the delivery of improved mobile coverage in the surrounding communities of Broome, there has been a surge of community residents travelling to Broome to purchase mobile phone devices. This has increased significantly since the towers were deployed.
- At a recent meeting of government agency managers it was broadly discussed and good feedback from officers about the noticeable coverage when travelling across the Kimberley.
Dirk Sellenger, Chief Executive Officer, Shire of Upper Gascoyne
The speed at which the mobile phone tower was commissioned in Gascoyne Junction is a credit to everyone involved and surprised many. I would think from start to finish this would have been one of the quickest remote commissioning ever undertake. The benefits to the town of Gascoyne Junction and Shire of Upper Gascoyne are significant. Previously tourists and visitors had only an old card operated payphone on the street corner to make calls and to stay in touch with family and friends. These sorts of benefits, as well as, the obvious safety benefits of being able to keep in touch by way of a simple phone, text message or email call, are huge.
The Shire office recently switched from satellite to wireless following the commissioning of the service. This now allows Council contractors, including, accounting, environmental health officer and Council auditors, to dial into the Shire server as if they were sitting in the office. This also allows us to seriously look at the option of having remote processing of Council services such as creditors and payroll which was not something we were able to consider previously. The coverage of the tower provides service approximately 35kms from the town centre in each direction with a car kit, as well as the town site of Gascoyne Junction. The benefits of the mobile install are available to two pastoral stations within the Shire neighbouring the town, who are now the envy of the rest as they look into how to best take advantage of these benefits, which may include stock cameras and wireless water controls.
Dannelle Foley, Economic Development Officer, Shire of Mt Marshall
The positivity that the Bencubbin RMCP tower in the Shire of Mt Marshall has created within the community has been enormous. Some of the key benefits include:
- Implementation of digital tablets for the Councillors and CEO, reducing our carbon footprint and reducing workloads.
- Developing social media policies to establish communication to the community through Facebook.
- Access to internet at the pool which has increased communication between pool staff and management at the Shire office.
- The ability to send an SMS to all registered farmers to declare harvest bans.
- Micro businesses, who rely on internet to run their business from home, have found benefits through faster internet creating a larger work capacity.
- Increased community positivity through the ability to access faster internet, communicate through SMS, email and social media more regularly, and reliably.
- Increased business capacity through better connectivity and financial benefits with access to more competitive phone and internet plans.
- Response times for emergency services will be greatly increased having a more reliable signal.
- Our local Silver Chain nurse is now able to carry her mobile phone with her on social events, making her more contactable in the case of an emergency as she does not have to direct her phone line to a land line.
- Financial benefits to those consumers that have plans for their mobile phones.
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