John and Pammie Ahlin at their shed, the only place where they can almost get a reliable signal.

Highlands residents Pammie and John Ahlin have had enough of paying for their Telstra mobile phone service but never getting the service they’ve paid for.

They’re far from alone. Many Highlands residents are forced to put up with a mobile signal that’s spotty at best and non-existent at worst according to them.

It’s a situation that sees some of them getting into their cars to drive to spots where they can pick up a signal just to use their phones.

Find the spot

Mrs Ahlin told the Bridgetown Star that to use her mobile phone she has to walk around the house to find a spot where it can pick up a signal. One place that is usually more reliable is the couple’s backyard shed, where at best they can get a three-bar signal.

But that signal’s also affected by weather, she said, with cloudy days particularly bad.

It’s a big problem for Mrs Ahlins, a loans processor with a real estate finance business, who relies on her mobile phone for her business contacts and transactions.

Telstra have acknowledged that the Highlands is a blackspot for 3G and 4G indoor and outdoor reception.

It’s recommended that the Mrs Ahlins uses a Telstra Smart Antenna and an outside Yaggi antenna to boost the signal, at a combined cost of $1368.

However, Mrs Ahlins said that even then Telstra wouldn’t guarantee that it will fix the problem for her, and she doesn’t see why she should have to pay for it.

“They want you to pay for a service you’ve already paid for,” she said. “Should I stop paying my bill?”

Mrs Ahlins said it’s a worrying problem for Highlands residents, particularly the elderly, in cases of emergency.

“How do you call an ambulance?” she said, “but they really don’t care.”

Government program

The Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program aims to improve mobile coverage in regional and remote areas.

It has a budget of $380 million and works with mobile network providers, state and local governments and community groups.

Applications for the program’s current round of funding close on 10th February next year. Amongst other things it’s focussing on bushfire-prone areas.

However, according to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications’ website, new nominations for its National Mobile Black Spot Database “are not being accepted at this time.”