THE South-East farming region of Keilira will be the recipient of two new phone towers after the announcement of funding for a Telstra tower to go along with a Optus tower announced in April.
Kingston District Council have invested $50,000 in the tower - which is hoped to be constructed in 12 months time - with the state government pledging more than $700,000 towards the project from its SA Mobile Black Spot Fund.
The Council has lobbied for a black spot-funded site for the Keilira region for several years and the Keilira bushfire in late December 2019 sparked a renewed bid for funding, with the communication deficiencies made clear during the devastating fire event.
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KDC Mayor Kay Rasheed said a lack of quality phone service in the area had been a talking point for years, and in times of emergency poor service could potentially be the difference between life and death.
"We were thankful the site was recently announced successful for an Optus solution under Round 5 of the Mobile Black Spot Program," she said.
The state government recently notified KDC of its commitment of more than $700,000 towards the site from SA's Mobile Black Spot Fund, on the condition of receiving contributions from Telstra and Council.
The Council held a special meeting last night to deliberate the offer, acknowledging that a $50,000 contribution would be needed for the project to proceed.
"Council has received some bushfire recovery grant funds, but this has already been allocated to other projects, including vegetation and road maintenance in the area as a direct result of the Keilira bushfire," Mayor Rasheed said.
"Whilst having consideration of the bushfire funds in making its decision to support the project, the Council acknowledged that the timeline to deliver the Telstra solution was beyond the eligible scope of those funds and could therefore not be listed in the schedule of works for that grant.
"However, in listening and responding to the needs of our community, it was overwhelmingly obvious that a Telstra solution would ultimately benefit a far-reaching cross section of the community, including locals and passers-by.
"Signal continuity and compatibility to existing communication plans and providers is key here, as is recognising that a majority of rural businesses are Telstra customers.
"Having both an Optus and Telstra solution available to our community, with a majority of the funds being tipped in by the state and federal governments, was far too good an opportunity to pass up."
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Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone congratulated the Council on their investment and said digital connection was vital for regional communities.
"Effective telecommunications infrastructure is critical for our regional communities and our government is investing more than ever to improve mobile phone coverage," he said.
"The Limestone Coast community has long been calling for a black spot solution and we are excited to be able to deliver this."
Member for MacKillop Nick McBride said the new mobile phone tower was a great result for the local community.
"We have been looking to improve mobile phone coverage for years around Keilira, as it's essential for local businesses to stay connected and for our emergency services to be responsive," he said.
"A reliable mobile phone service makes a significant difference for families, individuals and businesses living and working in remote areas."
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