Stratham residents demand answers from Telstra over six week reception black out

Stratham residents unite: Dean McBow, Janet Herdsman, Alan Lea, Joanne Miller and Paul Diggins with Telstra regional general manager Boyd Brown and NBN community engagement manager Peta Greening. Picture: Pip Waller
Stratham residents unite: Dean McBow, Janet Herdsman, Alan Lea, Joanne Miller and Paul Diggins with Telstra regional general manager Boyd Brown and NBN community engagement manager Peta Greening. Picture: Pip Waller

STRATHAM residents met at the Capel Golf Club last week to demand answers over a lack of phone and internet reception during the holidays.

Over six weeks, more than 50 residents were affected by a perceived signal outage, with some residents forced to drive from their homes to gain reception.

As orchestrated by Forrest MP Nola Marino, the residents vented the issue to representatives from NBN and Telstra on Thursday, January 27.

Stafford Drive residents Michelle and Paul Lesue started the Stratham residents group after realising how many people had been affected by the outages in December.

"We've lived in Stratham for 18 years and the issue has just been diabolical," Ms Lesue said.

"So we decided to put together a list of how many people had been affected, and I was just overwhelmed by the amount who came forward.

"We've all been calling Telstra but they just say the same things and we feel like not heard - so I'm glad that everyone is here today in the same place, saying the same thing, and getting heard."

...if there's a fire, we can't even communicate or find out what's going on.

Stratham resident Paul Diggins

NBN community engagement manager Peta Greening and Telstra regional general manager Boyd Brown attended the meeting.

Mr Brown acknowledged the residents' frustration over the outages - but claimed Telstra was unaware of the six week issue.

"We had a three day issue in December and another one in January, but we weren't aware of the broader outage," Mr Brown said.

The closest towers to residents of Stratham are on Cokelup Road (Optus, Telstra and Vodafone) and Calinup Road (NBN), however residents with fixed line wireless or ADSL said that the trees which surround many of their properties stopped the signal from reaching their house.

Chislehurst Avenue resident Paul Diggins spoke at the meeting and highlighted the combination of having power outages and lack of reception during the devastating bushfires in the Margaret River and Busselton areas in December 2021.

He expressed frustration over trying to get bushfire ready and keeping updated with a lack of phone signal.

"I had to physically get in my car and drive to try and get a fire update - that's not good enough," Mr Diggins said. "Whoever put those towers there left us in a hole. My biggest concern comes from a safety issue - if there's a fire, we can't even communicate or find out what's going on. We chose where we built our houses, but these providers chose where to put their towers."

At the meeting, both Mr Brown and Ms Greening offered alternatives to the residents - including transferring to satellite.

Mr Greening also offered a discount on Cel-Fi mobile signal repeaters which are designed to legally solve cellular coverage issues for indoor and outdoor applications. Ms Marino also discussed providers working together as part of the state government's Regional Connectivity Program.