Monday, 04 November 2019 00:27

Mobile blackspot program hits landmark 750 base stations Featured

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A landmark 750 new or improved mobile base stations have now been completed as the Australian Government’s mobile blackspot program to improve and enhance mobile phone coverage in regional and rural Australia continues to be rolled out.

The 750th base station, just completed, is located at Nullawil in the Mallee region of Victoria as the $380 million rollout, being undertaken for the Governement by Australia’s three largest telcos - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - progressively provides connectivity to regional and rural Australia.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said “programs such as this make a real difference for families, businesses and emergency services, living and working in remote communities have better connectivity where and when they need.”

“The Liberal and Nationals Government is delivering more reliable services for regional communities though improved network infrastructure.

“Regional communities rely on high quality mobile services to conduct their businesses and better connect with loved ones and this program is ensuring more people have efficient mobile phone access.”

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Paul Fletcher, said more than 70% of the 1047 base stations funded through the first four rounds of the program are now complete, reflecting the Government’s “unwavering commitment to providing reliable connectivity in the regions”.

“Thanks to our significant investment, people living, working and travelling in Nullawil in the Mallee – the location of our 750th base station – will now have better mobile coverage. This is great news for local grain farmers and their families who can enjoy the benefits of improved mobile coverage,” Minister Fletcher said.

Progress on the program rollout and “highly successful” program was also welcomed by Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton, and Member for Mallee, Dr Anne Webster MP.

Minister Coulton said the Mobile Black Spot Program is an example of what can be achieved when the mobile industry, state and local governments, local businesses and communities work together.

“Each new mobile tower is connecting regional communities to online services, increasing productivity and generating economic growth, which is why we are continuing to invest in additional program rounds,” Minister Coulton said.

“Communities across Mallee continue to benefit from the Federal Government’s Mobile Blackspot Program, enabling them to connect to family, friends and markets more reliably than ever before,” said Dr Webster.

“It’s great that the people of Nullawil now have access to better mobile coverage, and I look forward to the continuing roll out of the project across Mallee.”

The Ministers noted that under the first four rounds of the program, the Government’s commitment has generated a total investment of more than $760 million in new mobile telecommunications infrastructure, with an additional $160 million in new Commonwealth funding for a fifth and sixth round of the program announced earlier this year.

The application process for the Round 5 closed on 26 September 2019, with the outcomes of the process expected to be announced in early 2020.

Commenting on the base station rollout milestone, Nikos Katinakis, Group Executive, Networks & IT, Telstra said, “Reaching 750 sites in the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program is a fantastic achievement, and a huge milestone in bringing connectivity to regional Australia.”

“Under the Program Telstra has delivered connectivity stretching from Monkey Mia in Western Australia to Weipa in the Queensland Cape York Peninsula which has added another 185,000 square kilometres of new coverage to Australian communities.

“Telstra has a long and proud history of investing in regional Australia – which includes more than $280 million dollars as part of the Program by the time Round Four of the program is complete.”

And Andrew Sheridan, Vice President of Regulatory and Public Affairs, Optus said: "Optus is a strong supporter of the Commonwealth's Mobile Black Spot Program, which is bringing coverage and competition to regional Australia, in many places for the first time.

"We congratulate the Government on the success of the program and look forward to working closely together in current and future rounds."

“We’re pleased to be working as part of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program to deliver new mobile sites for communities in regional and remote areas,” said Kevin Millroy, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone.

“To date, Vodafone has delivered approximately 36,600 square kilometres of new external coverage to our customers; extended 4G services to more than 16,000 additional homes; and added more than 1,400 kilometres of 4G connectivity along major transport routes across the country.”

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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