Reliable and functional communications on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Queensland.

Reliable and functional communications on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, Queensland.

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Travis Place started this petition to Telstra

The residents of Russell Island (as well as Macleay, Karragarra, and Lamb Islands) needs reliable and functional communications. We are plagued with issues in relation to mobile phone calls, internet connectivity, congested internet speeds, and even land line phone issues.

Having a single phone tower/exchange on an island 8km long means that a large number of people are without access to reliable mobile phone coverage, out of range for ADSL (or mobile) internet services, and quite a few streets are even without telephone pits, therefore unable to have access to even a simple 'land line' telephone service.

MOBILE PHONE ISSUES:

As a resident of Russell Island, I personally cannot answer my mobile phone when at home due to lack of service. I am a mere 1.3km from the mobile phone tower. I get "NO SERVICE" and am not even able to dial 000 in the case of an emergency.

Many other residents have similar issues, also. Some as close to the tower as me, some further away, but I would estimate this impacts over 1000 people, daily.

INTERNET ISSUES:

Our island is connected (communications wise) to the mainland using a 'Microwave Backhaul'. This backhaul consists of several 'radios' that work to provide all of our off-island communications. That means internet access, mobile phone calls, and land line calls to places not on the island.

For the 3rd time this year, 2/3 of that microwave link have failed and gone offline, leaving island residents with telephony and internet access akin to those of 2 decades ago.

On each occasion, it has taken a resident to notice these outages, speak to their friends within Telstra, and get the right people to notice, and send someone out to fix the failed equipment.

This latest outage was from the 25th October 2018, until Telstra finally got the message something was wrong, on November 1st 2018. That is an entire week with dropped phone calls, and internet speeds of below 1mbps.

Each and every time this happens, it is very difficult to report, as the call centre staff treat each call as an individual problem, not listening to the fact that there is a major outage impacting thousands of people.

Even at the best of times, when everything is working, our microwave backhaul is heavily congested, and we are flat out getting 7-8mbps speeds, even when we are connected to the exchange at speeds in excess of 20mbps.

IMPACT ON RESIDENTS:

Due to the above mentioned issues, it makes it very hard for businesses on the island to work efficiently and reliably. In fact, due to the lack of ADSL ports available, many businesses (and residents) can't even get an ADSL connection.

For residents, it makes it very hard to communicate with businesses, friends and family.

In the case of an emergency (like the massive bushfires in previous years) the lack of ability to reliably call 000, or even notify friends and family that you are safe, is of major concern

To this date, Telstra has said that since the NBN is coming, it is not financially viable for them to update infrastructure. Unfortunately, we on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands have had the NBN carrot being dangled in front of use for the better part of 3-4 years, and now have a proposed connection date of late 2020. This is simply not acceptable.

SUGGESTED SOLUTIONS:

  • Install more ADSL ports in the Russell Island (and Macleay Island) exchanges. These can be obtained from the other mainland exchanges that are being decommissioned and converted over to NBN technology.
  • Upgrade our microwave backhaul from what it is now, to something more appropriate for 5000-6000 residents. This combined with my first point, will mean many new customers will be able to use the network, providing better services for the island residents, and more customers for Telstra.
  • Adjust the output of the existing mobile phone tower, to provide better coverage to the island. If this cant be achieved, build another tower. Yes, this costs money, but it could be the difference between life and death for many people, in the case of another bushfire or other emergency

CONCLUSION:

I am aware that a lot of the things I/we are asking for may not be 'financially viable' due to 'the NBN coming'. As residents and business owners who need reliable communications for work, family, and safety, it is imperative that something be done sooner rather than later. We can't be left waiting for the NBN that keeps being pushed back in our area, even though it was promised to us years ago.

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