Aurukun Shire Council has a serious capacity problem when it comes to its phone and data services, which is why it has begun lobbying state and federal governments for $700,000 in funding to help upgrade its telecommunications facilities.
The remote Indigenous Cape York Peninsula community, located approximately 830km from Cairns and with a population 1,400, is a growth township with housing, community, business and tourism infrastructure being rapidly developed.
Aurukun, which has no ADSL broadband service, currently receives its Telstra and communication services via radio transmission towers, which includes mobile calls, mobile internet and fixed data services.
However, the radio transmission equipment at Aurukun can only support a total transmission capacity of 34Mb – which Telstra says is five times short of a modern, functional system for a community the size of Aurukun.
Aurukun Mayor Cr Dereck Walpo said the slow and poor mobile internet connectivity was causing major, negative impacts in his community.
“In Aurukun, we are experiencing serious phone, internet speed and capacity problems, and we need it fixed as soon as possible,” said Mayor Walpo.
“Council, government agencies, stakeholders and residents are continually frustrated by this deficiency.
“We are a forward-thinking council and community, and we have big plans for the future, especially in relation to tourism and business.
“Unfortunately, we’re being held back at the moment by a poor telecommunications service.
The LGAQ’s innovation executive, Lou Boyle, said the lack of scalable core telecommunication infrastructure in many rural and regional councils was retarding growth opportunities.
“Telstra is asking Councils to pay for upgrades, in some instances millions, to ensure communities, including businesses and the state government can access services,” he said.
The LGAQ has congratulated the Commonwealth for allocating $100 million to help fix mobile black-spots, but more needs to be done if our rural and indigenous towns are going to progress.
Cr Walpo said Telstra had advised the council that necessary improvements would cost $700,000.
“The effect on business is also very significant where basic tasks, that are taken for granted elsewhere in the country, are impossible in Aurukun,’’ he said.
“Every day, our mobile devices, programs and communications are becoming more and more data hungry, therefore our problem is growing exponentially worse.”