Maaoupe phone tower

Maaoupe Phone Tower Committee members Christie Gapp and Ian Mulligan at the disused police phone tower on V&A Lane.

Member for MacKillop, Nick McBride has welcomed a financial commitment from Wattle Range Council towards the proposed provision of a usable mobile phone tower at Maaoupe near Penola.

In its 2022/23 draft budget which is expected to be adopted next month, council has committed $55,000 towards a new phone tower at Maaoupe and the funds have the potential to provide leverage towards efforts to secure further funding from telcos and other levels of government for the project estimated to cost $600,000.

The Penola Pennant reported on this matter last week and sought comment from telcos and Mr McBride on the issue.

Statements from Mr McBride and Optus were provided after the newspaper’s print deadline had passed so are instead included here.

In his statement, Mr McBride praised the community and council for their efforts towards the project so far.

“The community of Maaoupe are to be congratulated for their proactive and constructive approach to seek better mobile phone coverage for their area,” Mr McBride said.

“I was pleased to meet with a concerned group of locals from this area last year who have been lobbying for investment in better mobile service.

“There is no doubt that the lack of mobile phone coverage across this area is impeding business and is a safety risk.

“To address mobile black spots in this area, advice from Telstra has been that multiple towers are needed in the area between Maaoupe to Mount Burr, including the Furner area and across to Kangaroo Inn.

“The commitment from the Wattle Range Council is a testament to their commitment to assist their rate payers to access mobile phone services that are taken for granted by many.

“The traditional funding model for mobile black spot funding is shifting, with all levels of Government and stakeholder investment coming forward in an effort to tackle this significant issue for our communities,” Mr McBride said.

“I will continue to advocate for investment in the Maaoupe area and more broadly in priority areas across the electorate.”

A statement from Optus said the company had no current plans for another tower in the area.

“Optus is constantly improving our network, and continue to offer our customers competition and choice across Australia,” said the statement from an Optus spokesperson.

“Maaoupe is supported by the Optus’ network.

“Optus has no current plans to construct another tower in the area, but we look forward to participating in the governments’ future black spot funding rounds.”

The commitment from council in its draft budget for next year follows a deputation made to council by the Maaoupe Phone Tower Committee earlier this year.

The committee have identified a phone tower, built by SA Police at Maaoupe after Ash Wednesday in 1983 but never used, may be part of the project to provide mobile phone coverage to the area and stated last week that the next step was to approach state and federal government and Optus.