Calls for nationwide mobile roaming have grown louder after telecommunications were interrupted in recent emergency events. Australian mobile phone users are currently restricted as to which mobile phone networks they can access, with customers of a particular telco only able to access that particular network. If they were to be in an area where they could not receive coverage on their telco's network, they are unable to access any other network, even if they were in range. Mobile roaming would allow customers of any telco to access any network across the country. IN OTHER NEWS: The recent storms in Hepburn Shire and across the state have increased awareness of how mobile roaming could be potentially helpful in emergency situations. Hepburn Shire deputy mayor Brian Hood said when the storms hit Trentham, phone towers were down and the town was only able to receive a drip feed of communication from Melbourne. "That meant that some of us, including myself, would literally go around door knocking to check on people and by and large, we determined that people were safe and well... and then somehow try to get the message back to the concerned relatives in Melbourne that their loved ones here were okay," he said. "That was a big problem because it raised a lot of concerns, understandably, with people but also it just underlined how much we rely on telecommunications, mobile phones, internet, that sort of thing." Mr Hood said better infrastructure was needed as weather-driven emergencies become more frequent. "That's critically needed, particularly in the case of an emergency. The lack of comms really worsened the situation and caused a lot of, in some cases, undue concern and worry. It hampers the emergency services people in doing their jobs," he said. Regional Development Australia Grampians chair Stuart Benjamin recently wrote to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission urging it to review mobile roaming. Mr Benjamin said the problem had not been resolved despite black spot funding from both governments. "In such a large country, like Australia, it seems silly that to fix a black spot, we have to put up three towers because that's effectively what we have to do," he said. "We're not asking them to do it for free, we want them to do it on an economic basis, the same as they do for others and one line of regulation needs to be changed to allow it to happen." Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson recently wrote to Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher regarding reform on the law governing mobile roaming. "It's absolutely untenable that a family fleeing an emergency on one network would be deprived of any mobile connection because a competing network would not allow them to access that signal," she said. If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.