Telstra hopes a new 4G network on the south coast will overcome congestion problems that crippled the network last festive season. Photo: Louie Douvis
Telstra hopes a new 4G network on the south coast will overcome congestion problems that crippled the network during the last Christmas break, but holidaymakers and residents remain doubtful.
Eurobodalla Shire Council, Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce and tourists complained last year that telcos were not keeping pace with demand for mobile phones and internet devices and services.
ACT and southern NSW area manager Chris Taylor said, since then, nearly $2 million had been spent on adding 4G electronic equipment and antennas to the existing 3G towers.
''That will provide super-fast wireless broadband speeds for customers, but also it takes some of the data traffic off our 3G network, which caused problems last year during the peak holiday period,'' Mr Taylor said.
''Any phones purchased in the last 18 months will be 4G compatible. Laptops will depend on how they are set up.''
Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce president Allan Rutherford said the outcome would not be known until the peak influx of tourists over Christmas. ''We're hopeful,'' he said.
Mr Taylor said upgrades had been done at Ulladulla, Batemans Bay, Mossy Point, Moruya, Narooma, Merimbula, Bermagui, Tura Beach and Bega.
''[Capacity] is very difficult to predict because the use of wireless data has exploded over the last few years and that's what caught us out last year,'' Mr Taylor said.
''We have rolled this network out expecting we will meet the demand, but you have got to be able to predict whether this explosion is going to continue.''
Meanwhile, demand for south coast caravan and camping sites is outstripping other forms of accommodation, especially for water views.
Eurobodalla's tourism and marketing co-ordinator, Kerrie-Anne Benton, said people were also opting for shorter stays.
''Cabins, apartments and houses are also in high demand for the school holidays, however, the length of stay has decreased significantly over the past decade,'' she said.
Camping sites could be rented from $60 to 70 a night, depending on powered or unpowered and number of people each site. National Parks sites were now on par with commercial camping. Three-star motels at Batemans Bay can average $150 a night, while Narooma is advertising three nights from $300.
Ms Benton said Boxing Day traditionally was busiest, followed by New Year's Eve.
''Currently though there is still plenty of accommodation available in our region and the sooner people book the more likely you are to be satisfied.''
The future of Nelligen Bridge on the Kings Highway west of Batemans Bay remains under a cloud.
Its concrete piles need repairs but can still carry normal highway loads.
NSW Roads and Maritime Services is yet to release costs on repairing or replacing the bridge. A spokeswoman said no maintenance work was scheduled for this month or next.