Telecommunications in the Cove


dougkSun, 02/08/2015 - 9:35pm

As we continue to campaign for improved telecommunications in the Cove it is worth remembering that this local struggle began many years ago. But before relating a bit of that history here is a quick question:

How many permanent residents do you think would have lived in our North Arm Cove village back in 1968?

10? 20? 50? 100? more? We'll come to the answer to that question shortly

Much like in 2015, telecommunications were on the agenda back in January 1968 - just a few months after the Residents Association (then known as the Progress Association) was first formed!

The Association resolved to approach the District Telephone Manager at Maitland to:

provide a Public Telephone at North Arm Cove for the use of residents and villages with particular reference to emergencies requiring Doctor, Police or Fire Brigade.

No reply to this correspondence was received until March 1968 because there had been a Postal strike. The District Telephone Manager requested information so that the PMG could give the Association's request further consideration.

The March 1968 minutes record that: "there were 10 permanent residents and that 8 new buildings were erected during the year"

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the PMG found that "estimated receipts would fall far short of the amount required to justify the provision".

An enquiry about provision of a private lines received the response that a connection point was available 8 chains (~160 metres) from the Pacific Highway and that "the remainder of the line is the applicant's responsibility". Work couldn't begin for about one year. Locals would have to pay for more than 3 kilometres of cabling!

There was still no progress on the Public Telephone request but in February 1969, the Association resolved to contact the Federal Member to:

see what pressure could be brought to bear to obtain the installation of telephones at North Arm at a date earlier than could normally be expected.

In May that year telephones were again on the agenda. The Secretary, Mr WC Kelly, said:

as it was unlikely that anyone would, or could, bear the cost of erection and maintenance of a section of private line, he would again see the District Telephone Manager to discuss further possibilities and ask if a party line would be acceptable to the Dept in lieu of a telephone exchange.

All members concerned agreed that this would be preferable to having to pay to erect a private line.

In December 1969, the outcome of new discussions with the District Telephone Manager were reported. These seemed to indicate early action to install a telephone service in the Cove. It was proposed to advise occupants to put in an application to be connected "when the time comes". But at the next meeting in February 1970 it was agreed that giving such advice would be a bit premature.

There are no minutes of the Association between those of April 1970 and July 1973. During this time, the Association's hard-working foundation Secretary, WC (Bill) Kelly, passed away.

In his Annual Report for 1973/74 the then Association's President Dr Colvin said:

I think the biggest improvement to our facilities in this area was the final acquisition of an automatic telephone service. This Association might consider its installation a fitting memorial to Mr Bill Kelly.

The battle for a Public Telephone continued throughout the remainder of the 1970s and the 1980s. Then in May 1992 the Association received a letter from Telecom Australia:

I wish to advise that a decision has been made not to install a public telephone within the North Arm Cove Village as requested.

Soon after this, mobile phones began to change the way Australians used telecommunications. Before long, more public telephones were being decommissioned than installed.

We can live without a public phone now. It is just a pity that there are so many black spots in the mobile coverage of the Cove.