With a view to ‘continuing to expand and improve mobile coverage across regional and remote Australia’, the Australian government has announced that Round 5A of its ‘Mobile Black Spot Programme’ is now open for applications.
In confirming the development, the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC) noted that Round 5A will be used to test a range of different programme designs. Further, it noted that Round 5A includes a focus on three priority funding areas, specifically: high priority natural disaster prone areas, including those affected or prone to bushfire; new technology solutions in areas where low population densities have discouraged applications under earlier rounds of the programme; and major regional and remote transport corridors.
Funding of up to AUD34.5 million (USD25 million) for this latest round will be drawn from unused funding from Round 5, while it has been noted that Round 5A will help to inform the design of Round 6, funding for which was committed in the government’s 2019/20 Budget. Mobile network operators and infrastructure providers have until 16 December to register their interest in taking part in this latest phase of the programme.
To date, more than 1,200 new mobile base stations have been funded under the first five rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Programme, of which more than 880 are now live.