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MEDIA RELEASE - Call for improved network services in remote communities

13 March 2020

West Arnhem Regional Council Mayor Matthew Ryan is calling for better telecommunication network services within remote Indigenous communities throughout the Top End.

Continuous Telstra outages and intermittent mobile phone coverage within Arnhem Land communities have left residents, local service providers and businesses frustrated and unable to carry out important day-to-day functions.

Recent outages in Arnhem Land communities, including Galiwin'ku on Elcho Island and Minjilang on Croker Island, have taken up to 10 days to be restored, and currently, one of the Top End’s biggest Indigenous communities, Maningrida, has also been left with minimal Telstra coverage over a period of time.

These extended outages are consistently caused by failing infrastructure in communities and delays in getting a technician on the ground to fix the issues.

Mayor Ryan said without mobile phone service, residents in these remote communities cannot access money to buy food or fuel and most importantly, cannot contact emergency services. 

“Telstra doesn’t realise that services and businesses within these communities are unable to function without network coverage – this is a serious, continual issue.”

He also said the delays between restoring the faults after they have been reported is too long and the response from Telstra is minimal.

“These network outages are too frequent and take too long to be repaired – if this happened in a suburban region, a technician would be sent out that day,” Mayor Ryan said.

“This serious problem is too common in our remote communities and something drastic needs to be done by Telstra, the Northern Territory Government and the Australian Government."