BUSH Telstra customers are being forgotten with an increasing amount of landholders going years without a proper fix to their phone lines which are strewn through regrowth and hooked on fences.
Following a story in March about the Bymount phone line strung on a fence for almost a decade, the Queensland Country Life was inundated with stories from frustrated customers battling similar problems.
For Miles cattle producer Joe Courte, having a reliable landline could be a matter of life or death.
Four years ago Mr Courte had life saving surgery to implant a pacemaker which is digitally monitored by equipment in his home and sent to the PA Hospital in Brisbane each day through the land line.
If their medical team finds an abnormality, they can call medical assistance to Mr Courte immediately.
But for at least the last 11 years the landline running through the family’s 1500 acre property runs on the top of the ground for several kilometres before it is strung to a barbed wire fence and hooked between trees.
Mr Courte said junction boxes were non-existent with the couplings merely taped together and tied to a post above ground.
Mr Courte said his landline was vital and Telstra’s Universal Service Obligation, to ensure standard telephone services were accessible to all Australians, was meaningless and completely without credibility.
“There are thousands of people in the same boat,” Mr Courte said.
“How many pensioners are living by themselves on these big properties and their only lifeline is their phone line?
“An old car that actually goes is a lot more use to you than a dozen new ones that won’t start.
“There is a lot of people in the bush dreading the passing of the landline for reasons I said, because mobile just hasn’t lived up to its promises.”
A Telstra spokesperson said they knew how important it was for their rural customers to have a reliable landline service.
“We are committed to ensuring we provide it for them,” the spokesperson said.
A number of frustrated Telstra customers also shared similar experiences on the Queensland Country Life’s Facebook page.
Leeanne Pattinson said her phone line was duct taped to trees across the creek then run along the ground.
“When a fire comes along we loose it, lose it in floods, no mobile phone reception either...ludicrous for people living in 'the smart state',” she said.
Trudi Pratt’s phone line used to be strung along the side of a bridge and frequently left floating free ready to catch a log after a flood.
“Finally fixed when bridge had to be replaced and we pointed out the phone line to council,” she said.
Kaye Wooderson’s aged parents have had a similar issue for four or more years where every time the roadside is slashed the line is cut.
Fiona Worthy commented that for more than 10 years they had the same issue. While Telstra would come out to check the poles, they would do nothing about the fallen line.