Even more rural and remote people will receive better mobile phone coverage thanks to Round 2 of the Coalition Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme, Minister for Regional Communications Fiona Nash announced today.
The competitive selection process, which invites telecommunications companies to bid for a share of the available $60 million Round 2 funding to deliver new mobile coverage or upgrade existing coverage, begins today.
“Being a rural Australian and living two hours drive from the city myself, I understand how important mobile phone coverage is to rural Australians,” Minister Nash said.
“It would be great if telecommunications companies put up base stations in every small community in Australia, but we know that isn’t viable for them – so we’ve invested another $60 million to partner with companies to get coverage to many more rural and remote Australians.
“This $60 million investment in improved rural and remote mobile coverage follows the $100 million invested by the Coalition in Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.
“In six years of government, the Labor Party failed to invest a single dollar to increase mobile phone coverage in the bush. I’m proud to be part of a government which is improving mobile phone coverage in rural and remote Australia.”
Following the announcement of 499 new or upgraded base stations to be built under Round 1 of the programme, members of the public were invited to nominate additional mobile black spots that were not addressed under the first funding round.
The Government received an overwhelming response from the public, with more than 4,400 new locations nominated across Australia.
These locations have been added to the Government’s database of reported locations, with areas nominated under Round 1 of the programme continuing to form part of the database. There are now more than 10,600 mobile black spot locations in the database, which can be viewed at data.gov.au/dataset/community-reports-of-poor-or-no-mobilecoverage.
For each base station proposed by a telecommunications company to deliver improved coverage, companies will be required to nominate the amount of Commonwealth funding sought, their own proposed co-contribution, funding from state and local governments and other sources (if any), and data on the coverage benefits the proposed base station will provide.
The Government will then select the successful base stations in accordance with the ranking process set out in the programme guidelines released today, which are available for download at www.communications.gov.au/mobile_coverage.
The Government expects to be in a position to announce the successful locations under Round 2 of the programme in the second half of 2016.
Round 1 of the programme is already delivering benefits to regional and remote Australia, with the first base stations funded under the programme switched on in December 2015.
The full rollout of Round 1 base stations will occur progressively over the next three years.