10 May 2023

Optus given boot as roadhouses fight towers

| Cape York Weekly
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TWO roadhouse owners in Cape York have been successful in their fight against the federal government and a major telecommunications company.

Brad Allan at Archer River and John McDowell at Musgrave have been pushing for more phone towers in remote Cape York for years, but when the federal government announced funding for one each at their properties, they were less than impressed.

“There were two problems with what was proposed,” Mr Allan told Cape York Weekly.

“They weren’t actually towers, they were these small cell devices that don’t have any range. And they were going to be running off the satellite, instead of the fibre optic cable.

“But the bigger problem was the contracts were awarded to Optus instead of Telstra.

“That would have made them useless to just about every Cape York resident.”

Mr Allan said Telstra was the only provider in every Indigenous community and there was only limited Optus coverage in places like Weipa and the NPA.

“We just put our foot down and said it wasn’t happening.”

Federal MP Warren Entsch, who has delivered a number of new phone towers in the Cape under the blackspot program, praised the roadhouse owners for pushing back.

“They should be congratulated for standing up for themselves and not accepting a Mickey Mouse set-up,” he said.

“Optus wanted to slap something up and it would have benefited some tourists who were with Optus and not many others.

“It would have been farcical.”

Mr Entsch said the work by the Musgrave and Archer River roadhouses highlighted a flaw in the blackspot program.

“It just doesn’t make any sense to put an Optus tower up in a region like Cape York, unless that tower is shared by both networks,” he said.

Mr Entsch said he had raised the issue with Communications Minister Paul Fletcher to ensure similar issues would not happen in the next round of funding.

“There should be another round coming up very soon and I’ll be demanding that both these sites get priority,” the Member for Leichhardt said.

“The providers have to put a substantial tower there so it services both local residents and tourists travelling on the PDR.”

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