ADELAIDE Hills residents fear poor mobile-phone coverage will cause a communications breakdown during a major bushfire.
Residents who contacted AdelaideNow have complained of poor mobile phone coverage and long delays in repairing landlines.
Adelaide Hills Council Mayor and CFS volunteer Bill Spragg said black spots in the Hills were a long-term concern for residents.
"A lot of us can't get recep-tion because we are in a valley, but we have had mobile phones for more than 20 years - by which time you'd think we would have more complete coverage," he said.
"The SMS bushfire warning system is good if you are in the city, to tell you what is happening at home.
"One thing that could be done is to have co-location, which is more than one carrier using each tower."
A number of Norton Summit residents raised the issue after they'd lost their landline services this week.
One, Katie Gleeson, was initially told by Telstra that the problem wouldn't be fixed until tomorrow - but she made a case to have the service restored last Thursday instead.
"I had to explain to Telstra that both Ash Wednesday fires had burnt this property and on Thursday I was at home in 40C heat with two children and no landline or mobile," she said.
Since the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria, emergency services have launched SMS and online warning systems for residents.
The new systems are designed to supplement the traditional ABC radio warnings.
Telstra confirmed that after a three-year planning approval battle, construction had commenced on a long-awaited mobile phone tower at Ashton near Norton Summit.
The Ashton project required approval by both the council and the State Government.
But a Telstra spokesman warned black spots would remain in the Hills because of rugged terrain.
"It took about three years to gain the approvals we needed for the Ashton base station to get it to . . . the construction stage, which has started," he said.
"It will improve the situation dramatically - but the topography in the Adelaide Hills is extremely challenging."
Read more at AdelaideNow.