17 March, 2022
Gular tower grievances
By Tahlia Sinclair
Members of the Gulargambone and Armatree communities
came together on Monday (March 14) night to
discuss ongoing issues with mobile phone and data
Federal member for Parkes Mark Coulton
joined Telstra northern NSW general manager Michael
Marom, to hear the group's grievances.
Ash Walker organised the meeting, and said it wasn’t
meant to be a brick throwing session.
“This is not a time for everyone to share their concerns,
so we’re not going to go around one-by-one.
Barry Malone, who lives 16 kilometres west of
Armatree, had his landline removed 14-years-ago under
the recommendation from Telstra that bigger and better
connectivity was on its way.
“As our needs for communications rapidly increase,
our quality of service is diminishing, and as we age our
needs are greater,” said Mr Malone.
“We need better connectivity for paying bills, booking
tickets, medical services, FaceTime with doctors,
general banking, online contracts, weather checks,
sourcing parts, online auctions or Zoom meetings. All
are essential services for our community.”
Mr Malone said that he was being sent round in circles
by politicians and Telstra. Initially calling Mr
Coulton’s office, he was encouraged to contact Telstra
After speaking with Telstra, he was told to contact
his local member.
Increasing bills and reducing service provisions
were also a key concern, with one member of the group
saying it felt like they were shouting Telstra a beer to
receive just a half a mouthful in return.
Telstra representative, Mr Marom, said that the teleco
will continue to invest in “harder to justify” communities
if they can get co-contributions from local, state,
or federal government.
“The tower at Gulargambone is heavily congested,
the amount of data required has increased by 50 per cent
a year every year. It needs more capacity but there is
only so much you can get to a location. Gulargambone
is maxed out.”
The pair discussed the black spot funding program
but outlined that the issues faced at Gulargambone were
not best suited to it. Rather, they needed to look at the
regional connectivity program.
Mr Marom said that the short-term solution for
locals was to buy boosters to affix to their cars, homes,
However, boosters cannot improve connection when
congestion is the problem, only spread the already weak
Attendees jeered at the suggestion boosters
would solve their issues, with many saying they
already had boosters and they were not helping.
Mr Marom confirmed to the group that a proposal
for a full macro, fibre fed, tower in Armatree had been
filed, but there was no guarantee it would be approved.
“It has to make a national list for Telstra, and if it
gets through the Telstra list, it then goes to the federal
government,” he said.
Mr Marom said Armatree was a high priority area, especially as the Gulargambone tower had reached capacity.
“I could say to you, we’ll go back and look at
Gular and see what we can do, but it is optimised.
You’re not going to get more capacity at Gular, that’s
why you need a new tower.”
He estimated that if all went to plan a new tower
could be erected in Armatree in the next 18-months.
“You’re probably going to get a tower in 12-to-18-
months, if everything goes well, and this is an area
where everything goes well.”
Until then however, all Mr Marom could offer as a
solution was boosters, which individuals would need to
pay for out of their own pocket.
“We don’t provide support for mobile products.
“You can choose to invest in a booster, no one is forcing you to get it,” he said.