STRONG SIGNAL: telephone tower planned for the future residential area

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A MOBILE infrastructure builder seeks pre-approval for an Armstrong Creek phone tower to improve coverage of a mobile blackspot.

Stilmark asked the City of Greater Geelong to build a new tower at 15 Baenschs Lane – a farmland property just off Barwon Heads Road, near its intersection with Lower Duneed Road.

The builder is offering to get ahead of projected demand for the currently underdeveloped region, but said it would only build its structure after finding a telecommunications partner to use the new structure.

The proposed site is approximately 4.5 kilometers from the nearest mobile phone base station in an area that has a documented history of poor service as its population has grown.

Telecommunications giants Telstra and Optus have each proposed towers within 3km of the Baenschs Lane site, while another Optus facility 3.6km north is expected to come online soon.

However, Stilmark’s planning report notes that modern telephone services are no longer reliable beyond 1 km from base stations, which it says demonstrates “a clear need for additional installation in the southern region of ‘Armstrong Creek/Connewware’.

The infrastructure company said its new tower would “address an anticipated future need by carriers in this area.”

Stilmark said he was “confident there will be future demand for the proposed structure given the significant urban development in the locality and is seeking approval on that basis.”

He said he would not build the structure until he locked down a carrier to use the facility to limit the impact on the community of unnecessary structures – but is asking for pre-approval for the facility to expedite the planned construction.

Meanwhile, he left the door open for several telecom operators to use the new facility to improve coverage for a range of mobile customers.

“Once the structure is in place, it will also be suitable and available for co-location by a second (or potentially third) carrier,” the report said.

“This preference and readiness for collocation will also help minimize the number of these structures in the council area and give the council a better basis on which to conduct collocation when new facilities are proposed.”

Patchy phone reception has been a source of angst for the community in the rapidly growing Armstrong Creek area.

Last year, a petition by Corangamite MP Libby Coker calling for improved service attracted more than 400 signatures.

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