Australia details funding for second round of mobile blackspot programme

1 Dec 2016

The Australian Government has announced details of the second round of the country’s ‘Mobile Black Spot Programme’ (‘MBSP’), revealing that it will deliver 266 new or upgraded mobile base stations across the country. In a press release the Department of Communications and the Arts (DCA) said that it expected these base stations to collectively provide: new and upgraded handheld coverage to over 17,700 square kilometres of regional and remote Australia; new external antenna coverage to over 52,300 square kilometres; and new mobile coverage to over 1,900 kilometres of major transport routes.

In total, this second round will see AUD213 million (USD159 million) invested in mobile base station infrastructure, with this funding having been supplemented by mobile network operators (MNOs) Telstra (AUD63.7 million), Optus (AUD36.4 million) and Vodafone Australia (AUD1.6 million). Further, six state governments have also co-contributed towards the latest phase of the programme, those being: New South Wales (AUD8.3 million), Queensland (AUD13.7 million), South Australia (AUD1.5 million), Tasmania (AUD350,000), Victoria (AUD7.9 million) and Western Australia (AUD21.8 million). Finally, an additional AUD475,000 has been provided by local governments, businesses and community organisations.

With the rollout of base stations funded under round two of the MSBP expected to commence in 2017, all three of the cellcos involved in the project have outlined the work they will carry out. Having constructed base stations in 429 locations in round one of the MBSP, mobile market leader Telstra has said it will build 148 mobile base stations in this second round, while Optus is set to roll out 114 new mobile sites. Vodafone, by comparison, is playing a smaller role in the project, having received funding for just four base stations at Aberfoyle (New England, NSW), Wongwibinda (New England, NSW), Condobolin (Parkes, NSW) and Yolla (Braddon, TAS).