Telstra has admitted there has been a reduction in the performance of its 3G network in the Riverland town of Berri and its surrounding areas, leaving many local residents with a lack of reliable service since the local upgrade to 5G.

Key points:

  • 3G mobile service in Berri and its surrounds has reduced in performance
  • Telstra says its 4G and 5G networks are functioning normally, but is looking for a fix for the 3G coverage
  • Local MP Tim Whetstone says poor service has been a problem since the 5G network was installed in Berri last year

The launch of the 5G service in July last year caused major and lengthy mobile service outages in the region, and the telecommunications company apologised at the time, saying it was building a more reliable and faster network.

Six months on, local MP Tim Whetstone has raised concerns about a significant drop in mobile and internet signal strength.

“Since the installation of the 5G network … they have had very poor reception in other towns.”

Telstra SA general manager Mark Bolton and Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone.(ABC Riverland: Meg Vonic-Joyce)

Mr Whetstone said he spoke with both Telstra and Optus about what could be causing the issue and possible solutions.

“There are more people working from home, using data and that is vacuuming up a lot of the bandwidth,” he said.

“But we’ve got to make sure, if that is the case, we need to have those services further upgraded.”

Unreliable service since upgrade

A Telstra spokesperson said a review of the Berri site yesterday found 3G performance had reduced, while 4G and 5G capacity was operating normally after being strengthened last year when the upgrade took place.

“This would mean that people with older 3G-only phones or people using the 3G network in locations further away from Berri may be experiencing a reduced level of mobile coverage and call dropouts,” the spokesperson said.

Monash and Loxton are just some of the towns surrounding Berri that are being impacted.(ABC Riverland: Meg Vonic-Joyce)

“In everyday situations, mobile coverage can be influenced by a range of factors including the type of handset used, distance from the tower and obstacles such as tall trees, hills and buildings.

Mr Whetstone said he would also raise the issue with his state government peers in cabinet.

“We need to put more funding for better resources in regional South Australia … making sure the Riverland has adequate phone coverage as well as bandwidth,” he said.

The 3G network is expected to close in 2024 and Telstra says it is no longer selling 3G-only phones. 

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