Dangerous mobile black spots around the Riverina could be in for desperately-needed upgrades.
Junee, Old Junee, Wantabadgery, Gundagai, Tumut and Uranquinty have been earmarked for improved service under a $1 billion expansion of regional coverage by Optus.
In a statement released on Friday, Optus announced it would build 500 new towers, upgrade 1800 and improve the 4G capacity of 200 sites around regional Australia.
“This represents one of the single largest investments in regional mobile infrastructure in Australia’s history,” Allen Lew, Optus’ Chief Executive Officer said.
A spokeswoman from Optus couldn’t give specific details on how services in the Riverina will improve.
“Optus is currently working with local councils and communities to identify sites for new towers and tower upgrades,” she said.
“Optus will announce region-specific news as it becomes available.”
There is currently one live Optus tower in Junee, delivering 4G to customers living in the centre, but residents hope to see the bad reception on the roads heading out of town addressed.
Junee Reefs resident Elizabeth Cowled has her service with Telstra because of Optus’ patchy reputation.
“There are many places you can’t get service with Optus like between Junee and Wagga,” she said.
“For 20-30 kms reception drops out on the link road to Bomen coming out of Junee and on Shepherds Road.
“With kids coming home and people on the road it’s a dangerous place for a black spot.”
Resident Amy Jobson has been with Optus for roughly five years.
She said the service is decent in town, however drops out completely on the road to Cootamundra and also to Wagga.
“In town it’s fine, it’s just heading out you get problems,” she said.
“It’s alright if my husband’s with me on the road, but I’d welcome an upgrade.”
The upgrade is partially funded as part of Round 2 of the federal government’s Mobile Black Spots Program, with Tumut and Wantabadgery on the governments ‘Priority Locations’ list.
The Mobile Black Spot Database paints a bleak picture for reception for Junee, with the community reporting multiple areas of little to no coverage.
In the statement, Mr Lew aired a challenge to dissatisfied regional customers.
“I challenge regional Australians to put Optus’ network to the test for themselves.
“Try our network and if you’re not satisfied, simply contact us within 30 days to cancel the service, return the handset in good working order, and there won’t be any plan cancellation fees,” the statement said.
Optus report the expansion will be completed by June next year.