10 May 2023

Archer River phone tower won’t be ready for wet season

| Matt Nicholls
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The Archer River is the most dangerous crossing in Cape York and a planned phone tower is not expected to be installed until after the wet season.

ANOTHER wet season, another mobile phone blackspot at the Archer River.

Despite federal government funding to build a new tower at the Archer River Roadhouse, Telstra has dragged its heels and won’t have a tower erected until next year.

It means that Cape York’s most dangerous river crossing will be without phone coverage until at least March, although that will depend on the severity of the wet season.

A deal has been brokered between Telstra and the roadhouse for the supply of power and an installation point.

But sources told Cape York Weekly that the telco dragged its heels and “were in no big rush” to get the job done.

Rachel Cliffe, the regional general manager for Telstra in Queensland said: “In relation to Archer River, a new small cell base station is to be installed by Telstra at the Archer River Roadhouse as part of the Mobile Blackspot Program.

“This will provide new coverage at the roadhouse and areas in close vicinity and is expected to be on air by March, 2022.”


THE community with the worst telecommunications in Cape York should expect another brutal wet season.

Lockhart River only has 3G mobile phone reception, which is bad at the best of times and rarely gets through a wet season without an outage.

Mayor Wayne Butcher has been pushing Telstra to upgrade transmitters in the Cape that would help his community make the transition to a 4G service, but that has yet to happen.

“If you want to talk about Closing the Gap, this would be a great place to start,” he said.

Ms Cliffe said: “Telstra is investigating options for improving mobile coverage and capacity at Lockhart River but there are no projects planned prior to this year’s wet season.”


TELSTRA has two projects under way in Cooktown to improve 4G mobile performance.

“Work at our Cooktown site is progressing well and, weather permitting, is expected to be completed by the end of December,” Ms Cliffe said.

“The upgrade should look to bring extra capacity and speed to the network. Planning is also underway on the installation of a 4GX small cell at the Cooktown Hospital and is expected to be operational in May, 2022.”

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