Vodafone Australia has announced plans to expand its regional mobile network, with the cellco saying it will invest more than AUD9 million (USD6.5 million) to construct 32 new mobile base stations in New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia. In a press release confirming its plans, the operator’s chief technology officer Benoit Hanssen said that the majority of the 32 new sites are expected to be operational by the end of this year, with all to be on-air by the end of 2017. Vodafone Australia has noted that the 32 new locations are in addition to the 70 sites that it is building as part of the first phase of the Mobile Black Spot Programme in New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.
Alongside outlining its own plans to enhance rural connectivity, Vodafone Australia has called on any winner of the country’s upcoming legislative elections to examine the options for bettering communications in more remote regions. To that end, the cellco’s chief strategy officer Dan Lloyd was cited as saying: ‘It’s crucial that whichever party wins the election ensures the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into the current Universal Service Obligation (USO) arrangements leads to meaningful change which benefits customers … We think the AUD300 million in funding provided to Telstra every year to maintain an outdated copper network and payphones in regional areas could be much better spent. If a permanent Mobile Black Spot Programme was established, potentially using a portion of those USO funds, the number of regional areas to benefit from increased coverage and choice would increase substantially.’