Melinda Sands knows how important reliable mobile coverage is for communities like Lucas. As the owner of local fitness centre, Own Your Game, it is critical to her business.
"It's things like eftpos machines dropping out and wi-fi not being available for our members. Also, for our youth program - a lot of the kids are underage, so they're waiting for mum or dad to pick them up and need to be able to reach out, if something happens or they finish early."
Reliable mobile coverage helps keep the community connected. It also plays a key role in digital inclusion, making it easier for everyone to access online learning, work and Telehealth services.
"Lucas is a very tight knit community. People need to be able to chat to each other and feel included, feel a part of something greater than themselves," Melinda said.
The new mobile tower in Lucas is the first of six projects that the Victorian Government is delivering in partnership with Telstra, TPG and Optus to improve mobile coverage across greater Ballarat. Located on the corner of Finchs Road and Cuthberts Road, the tower provides over 18 square kilometres of new mobile coverage. The suburbs of Cardigan and Alfredton will also have new Telstra towers completed in 2024, and Mitchell Park will have new Optus and TPG towers completed in 2026.
“I walked into my business last week and the first thing I said was, ‘my phone works,’ which is something I've not been able to say since we've been here," Melinda said.
In the greater Ballarat area, there will be a total of 36 new mobile phone towers built, 16 upgraded to provide improved 5G services and four towers made more resilient to natural disasters. Four mobile upgrades from 4G to 5G have already been completed.
There will also be seven projects bringing higher quality broadband to homes and businesses in the City of Ballarat. Four of these projects have been completed in Buninyong, Alfredton, Delacombe and Wendouree resulting in access to faster broadband speeds for these locations.
Through Connecting Victoria, we are fast-tracking connectivity improvements with more than 1,200 mobile projects and 180 broadband projects across the state. All projects will be completed by mid-2026.