More rural and remote Australians will receive improved mobile phone coverage under Round 2 of the Coalition Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme, Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash and Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley announced today.
The competitive selection process began on 26 February, and will see Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) nominate locations where they would install a new or upgraded mobile base station to address one or more mobile black spots nominated by members of the public. The Coalition Government has committed $60 million to round 2 of the programme, which is expected to attract co-contributions from mobile operators, State and local governments, and third parties.
Minister Nash said the launch of the competitive selection process was an important step forward in the Coalition’s efforts to improve telecommunication services and infrastructure throughout regional, rural and remote Australia.
“It would be great if telecommunications companies put up base stations in every small community in Australia, but we know that isn’t commercially viable for them – so we’ve invested another $60 million to partner with mobile network operators and get coverage to many more rural and remote Australians,” Minister Nash said.
Ms Ley said the $60 million investment in rural and remote coverage would build on the success of the $100 million invested by the Coalition under Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot programme.
“I understand how important mobile phone coverage is to Australians who live in country areas, and I know that people right across Farrer understand this as well as anyone anywhere,” Ms Ley said.
“There was an overwhelming number of mobile black spot submissions received, with more than 4,400 new locations nominated across Australia, and I’m proud to be part of a government which is improving mobile phone coverage in rural and remote Australia.”
Following the announcement of 499 new or upgraded base stations to be built under Round 1 of the programme, members of the public were invited to nominate additional mobile black spots that were not addressed under the first funding round.
These locations have been added to the Government’s database of reported locations, with areas nominated under Round 1 of the programme continuing to form part of the database. There are now more than 10,600 mobile black spot locations in the database, which can be viewed at data.gov.au/dataset/community-reports-of-poor-or-no-mobile-coverage.
For each location where a Mobile Network Operator proposes to deploy a new or upgraded base station, MNOs will be required to nominate the amount of Commonwealth funding sought, their own proposed co-contribution, funding from state and local governments and other sources, and data on the coverage benefits the proposed base station will provide.
The Government will then select the successful locations in accordance with the ranking process set out in the programme guidelines, which are available for download at www.communications.gov.au/mobile_coverage.
The Government expects to be in a position to announce the successful locations under Round 2 of the programme in the second half of 2016.
Round 1 of the programme is already delivering benefits to regional and remote Australia, with the first base stations funded under the programme switched on in December 2015; in Farrer this included stations near Deniliquin in the Southern Riverina and Palinyewah in Wentworth Shire.
The full rollout of new or upgraded base stations funded under round 1 of the programme will occur progressively over the next three years.