Savernake and Rennie areas have complete mobile phone coverage, following the switching on of a new Vodafone mobile tower last Friday, March 16.
It follows a concerted local effort over the last six years for the tower led by Savernake resident Ann Sloane.
“It’s a good outcome. It’s the culmination of a lot of work by people,” she told The Free Press.
The new tower marks the first time the community of Savernake and the neighbouring community of Rennie, will have access to Vodafone’s 4G mobile network.
Vodafone’s new mobile tower was built under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program and is located 2kms from the heart of Savernake inside the Sloane property.
To help the community celebrate the arrival of the new tower, Vodafone hosted local residents at the Savernake School of the Arts Hall.
“The tower provides 160 square kilometres of land and 30 square kilometres of highway by the new 4G coverage,” Vodafone Chief Executive Officer Inaki Berroeta told the 45 people at last Friday’s joint announcement by Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley and himself.
It is also the first time local residents in the area can choose from more than one mobile service provider, with planned upgrades by Telstra and Optus; the total mobile tower cost estimated at $800,000 to $1 million.
Mr Berroeta said Vodafone’s new site in Savernake is part of Vodafone’s continued network investment to support growing demand for advanced mobile devices and services in regional Australia.
“We are competing vigorously to improve mobile services in regional parts of Australia. By working with government and participating in the Mobile Black Spot Program, we are seeking to expand mobile coverage and choice, so more Australians can take advantage of the economic and social benefits it enables,” he said.
“After a long campaign from the residents of Savernake and Rennie, we are pleased to deliver improved mobile services in the area and inject competition into the telecommunications landscape in regional New South Wales.”
Mobile towers will be built in Lowesdale, Gunbar and Berrigan by the end of this year according to the Vodafone CEO.
“In conjunction with other existing and upcoming towers in the area, there will soon be continuous coverage on major highways. This coverage will support local residents, business owners, emergency services and visitors travelling between Corowa, Lowesdale and Berrigan,” Mr Berroeta said.
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley said the delivery of Vodafone’s new tower through the Mobile Black Spots Program was a long awaited step forward for the communities of Savernake and Rennie.
“I actually inherited this concern when I entered Federal Parliament in 2001,” she said.
“But it’s really been ramped up in the last six years. I thank Vodafone. It has the interests of rural Australia and it’s making rural and regional parts a lot safer.
“I thank the emergency services for working hard. This is not just about running a business - it’s also about life and death.”
Ms Ley then singled out one person, Ann Sloane. “She stands out,” the Federal Member for Farrer said.
“Every community needs an Ann Sloane. Your patience, persistence and politeness have paid off. It’s a tribute to all your hard work.” A round of applause for Ann ensued.
Ann convened the initial meeting of local residents, particularly after two fatalities and subsequent cumbersome or slow communication via landline or 2 way radio with emergency services.
Following the December 2011 fatality, 120 people attended a meeting in the Savernake hall. “We started a lot of lobbying and had another meeting in the summer of 2014 and decided to seek Black Spot funding,” Ann, a trustee of the Savernake Hall Committee said.
“We went straight to Sussan Ley who has been very supportive.”
“Access to better mobile coverage and greater competition is something all regional communities deserve, so I am thrilled to see this day finally here,” Ms Ley said.
“Fixing mobile black spots like this was a key election commitment. Getting additional support from the telcos and the NSW Government is absolutely critical to the program’s success. I welcome Vodafone’s support in making this happen.”
Mayor of Federation Council, Pat Bourke expressed his thanks to Vodafone for bringing mobile coverage to the Savernake and Rennie areas.
“It’s also improved the social fabric of our community,” he said. “Savernake and Rennie are great communities. To make it come to fruition is truly honorable.”