Earth to Widgee: ‘Hello’

WIDGEE mobile phone users will be brought back to Earth, if a new federal government program enables them to be included in the nation's terrestrial mobile network.

For years, Widgee residents, cut off from mobile communications by the area's hilly terrain, have had to rely on landlines or, in some cases, have had to communicate with the rest of the planet by satellite phone.

But Deputy Premier Warren Truss says a new $100 million program to reduce black spot areas, will include a budget to bring the 21st Century to places like Widgee.

Mr Truss said the improvement program would address two separate coverage difficulties, with $80 million set aside for network expansion and $20 million for areas, like Widgee, with "unique coverage problems."

"Inadequate mobile phone coverage is a significant concern for regional communities. Lives can depend on being able to access mobile phone networks in emergencies, so these upgrades are of real importance to these communities," he said.

Mr Truss said he had campaigned consistently for extension of the mobile phone network to places like Widgee, which has been labelled a "remote" area for reception.

Mr Truss wrote to the former communications Minister, as well as the CEO of Telstra and had tabled a petition in Parliament to highlight the need for Widgee to be included in the mobile phone network.

"Apart from the increased amenity that mobile phone coverage offers, Widgee has suffered from recurrent flood events.

"People within this community have found it impossible in extreme weather to raise alarms to alert emergency services."