Katandra West residents have told the News for few years that the level of mobile connectivity in the town has become akin to the punchline of a particularly unfunny joke.
A joke that has clearly become increasingly unfunny for residents as years passed, and the town’s mobile signal continually stagnates.
Recently, a small cell tower has improved the situation in the very centre of the town. But this has been largely ineffective a kilometre or two down the road, residents this week told the News.
Anecdotes have been shared in the past few years about residents needing to come into town, or find higher ground, just to be able to make the sort of contact with others most take for granted — to place mobile phone calls and receive text messages.
Some tough words have been aired about the ridiculousness of the situation facing the town’s residents — living with telecommunication infrastructure well behind what is expected in the 21st century.
But for residents, the situation is a serious one.
In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or a flood, the lack of reliable contact has the potential to have dire consequences.
It is then unsurprising at the loud advocacy coming from town residents, via Shepparton’s state MP.
The importance of adequate mobile connectivity in small towns goes beyond this, though.
If the area hopes to encourage new families to move in and ensure young people are able to work remotely, start a business from home or just do day-to-day necessities requiring connectivity, something needs to be done fast.
This week perhaps had the biggest positive step for the town: a meeting with the state’s innovation minister.
For now, it appears Katandra West residents are being given a watch-this-space.
The matter has again become a high priority of the town’s latest community plan. But hopes are high that positive news will be received before the plan is endorsed, in the coming months.
We hope for the sake of the town this is the case and urge the government to closely consider the case made by residents.
Locals are to be commended for being so vocal on the need for improved connectivity in their town. Let’s hope their calls are finally answered.