More Australians living in regional and remote Australia will benefit from new and improved mobile coverage under Round 5 of the Federal Government’s highly successful $380 million Mobile Black Spot Program.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, and Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, the Hon Mark Coulton MP, today announced 182 new base stations will be delivered under Round 5, providing improved mobile coverage for regional and remote communities.
More than $836 million is being invested in new mobile infrastructure in regional and remote Australia across the five rounds.
The Federal Government is contributing $34 million to Round 5 of the Program, which will deliver total new investment of more than $73 million together with co-contributions from the funding recipients and state governments.
This comes as the Mobile Black Spot Program passes a significant milestone with more than 800 mobile base stations now on air across Australia, meaning more coverage in more rural areas.
“More than 77% of the 1047 base stations funded through the first four rounds of the Program are now complete taking us past the 800 mobile base station milestone. I thank Telstra, Optus and Vodafone for their work in getting us to this point, and importantly for their ongoing commitment to the Program,” Minister Fletcher said.
The Government has allocated funding for all Round 5 proposals that offer value for money to taxpayers and meet the guidelines for the round. Of the $80 million made available, $34 million has been successfully allocated.
Funding for new Round 5A
The Government intends that the next step in the Mobile Black Spot program will be to conduct a Round 5A, which will be used to test a range of different program designs. Funding for round 5A will be drawn from the unused portion of the funding allocated to Round 5.
The existing program design has served Australia very well. However, with each successive round, the base stations being funded are less economic for the mobile network operators. This fact, and the results from Round 5, suggest that fewer sites are likely to be successfully funded if future rounds are held under the existing program design.
The discussion paper to consult on the different program designs which could be tested under the future Round 5A has been released today.
The paper proposes three main objectives for this round:
- to improve mobile connectivity along major transport corridors;
- to improve mobile connectivity in disaster-prone regions; and
- to test new technologies that support shared mobile coverage in regional areas.
A decision on the timing of Round 5A will be taken once responses to the discussion paper have been received and considered.
Round 5 base stations are scheduled to roll out in the coming months with the first new base stations expected to be activated by the end of the year.