Tuesday, 16 July 2019 13:57

Regional economy boosted by improved mobile coverage, says government Featured

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The Federal Government says more than 700 new or improved mobile base stations are now on air and providing what it says is better mobile coverage in regional areas, while boosting Australia’s regional economy with more Australians than ever before accessing mobile networks.

“This milestone is an impressive achievement with the new coverage not only helping people to connect, but also significantly boosting our regional economy,” said Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher.

“The first four rounds of the highly successful program will deliver 1047 new base stations in areas that are not commercially viable without Commonwealth investment.”

Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton, said Telstra had activated its 600th base station under the program on Tuesday, with the remainder delivered by Optus and Vodafone.

“The Mobile Black Spot Program is a terrific example of what can be achieved when the Federal Government, mobile industry, state and local governments, local businesses and communities work together.”

Coulton said the program was “ongoing proof” that the government was committed to improving mobile coverage for regional Australians.

“The program helps people to stay connected with family and friends, undertake business, access education services and improve safety,” he said.

“More than 20,000 Triple Zero emergency calls have been made possible through these towers being online and local community groups can engage directly with mobile networks to make them aware of the coverage issues in their area.”

Coulton and Fletcher said in a joint statement issued on Tuesday that under the first four rounds of the program, the Federal Government’s commitment had generated investment of more than $760 million, with an additional $160 million in new funding for rounds five and six of the program announced earlier this year.

Funding for round sixcommences in July 2020.

Here’s what the three major mobile operators — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone — said: 

Optus vice-president Regulatory and Public Affairs, Andrew Sheridan:

“Optus is proud to partner with the Government to bring connectivity to regional and rural parts of Australia, enabling more Australians to stay connected with their friends and family.”

Vodafone spokesperson:

“We’re pleased to be working as part of the government’s Mobile Black Spot Program to deliver new mobile sites for communities in regional and remote areas.”

Telstra group executive of Networks & IT, Nikos Katinakis:

“Today is another milestone in one of the largest ever expansions of mobile coverage across regional and remote communities in Australia that is benefiting agriculture, transport, mining and tourism.”

“Telstra is proud to have been such an important part of this program in delivering 600 mobile base stations to date under the Mobile Black Spot Program and will deliver 1029 overall that includes 815 mobile base stations and 214 small cells.”

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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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