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Byron Bay Residents Call To Downsize Splendour In The Grass

This year will see Splendour In The Grass celebrate one of its biggest lineups yet during its second year at the North Byron Parklands. But following the announcement that all three major telcos will provide expanded mobile coverage at the site, some fear the festival may be getting too big.

As CraveOnline reports, a mild controversy erupted after Splendour organisers informed punters who are with Telstra that they would be experiencing “very limited” mobile service during the event as the telecommunications giant refused to provide free Cell on Wheels (COW) towers for SITG.

The telco responded by saying that the dispute with festival organisers arose from negotiations about a more permanent mobile coverage solution for the festival site and that after reviewing COW availability, they would indeed be providing Splendour In The Grass 2014 with expanded coverage.

But according to The Music, Kathy Norley, President of the South Golden Beach Residents Association, is more concerned about where local residents fit in the plans of both the telcos and Splendour organisers. Norley says that leaving residents out of discussions is a threat to their safety.

“Splendour seemed more concerned about their punters’ telecommunications – and were getting out to all media outlets about the situation with Telstra – than they were about their neighbours’ telecommunications, the residents of the north,” Ms Norley told local Byron Bay outlet Echo.

“We live here and as such deserve to be treated with dignity and understanding, a situation like this is about to affect our safety as well as our amenity,” she added. “My immediate concern is that the safety and amenity of the local residents are not put at risk. We’ve had several cases in the past of people during the festival periods unable to make emergency calls, even from their landlines.”

Norley said that the length of the event, which this year runs from Thursday, 24th July to Sunday, 27th July, is part of the issue. “Existing use has its problems but we all cope. If it was only for one day, not a problem, but the festival runs for five days and the outages can last for a week,” she said.

“If this happens again, the numbers at the festival need to be reduced or the capacity on the towers and the exchanges will have to be enlarged. We do not need more towers but we do need more capacity,” Ms Norley added. But a Telstra spokesperson says these fears are largely unfounded.

“As we are installing two Satellite COWs for the event we expect Telstra’s customers who are local residents, and not going to the event, should experience a network experience and service that is little changed from normal,” the spokesperson told The Music. “It is worth noting that some customers may experience some short periods of congestion due to an increased volume of traffic.”

“However we are confident that we have the appropriate solution to service the festival and the demands on the network,” they added. Organisers say Splendour’s place at the Parklands is still in a trial period and they are not currently in a position to “invest in permanent infrastructure.”

Gallery: 20 Bands We’re Looking Forward To Seeing At Splendour

Gallery: Splendour In The Grass 2014 Set Times (Click top right to enlarge)

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