Hands up for coverage in mobile black spots

Telecommunications companies looking to grab a share of $60 million in Government funds to improve black spot coverage have begun the competitive selection and bidding process. Yass Valley residents are encouraged to get involved in the bidding war. 

Last Thursday the Federal Government announced Round 2 of the Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme to provide better mobile phone coverage to rural and remote Australians.

The competitive selection process which began on February 26, will see Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) nominate locations where they would install a new or upgraded mobile base station to address one or more mobile black spots nominated by members of the public. 

“It would be great if telecommunications companies put up base stations in every small community in Australia, but we know that isn’t commercially viable for them – so we’ve invested another $60 million to partner with mobile network operators and get coverage to many more rural and remote Australians,” Dr Hendy said.

$60 million has been committed to round 2 of the programme, which is expected to attract co-contributions from mobile operators, State and local governments, as well as third parties.

“Residents in places such as the Yass Valley can nominate black spots for consideration under the programme and I encourage everyone who is affected by this issue to lodge a submission”

Dr Peter Hendy.

At the end of 2014 the Government committed $100 million to Round 1 of the Programme covering just over 500 new or upgraded mobile base stations, Round 2 was designed to contribute to these Black Spot areas.   

Dr Hendy said that he supported the programme due to the proximity of his electorate and its issues with mobile phone coverage.

“Residents in places such as the Yass Valley can nominate black spots for consideration under the programme and I encourage everyone who is affected by this issue to lodge a submission,” Dr Hendy said.

“Round 1 of the programme delivered improved mobile phone coverage to the Yass Valley with a new tower in Binalong.” 

More than 4,400 new locations were nominated across Australia under Round 1. 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-mobile-coverage. 

For each location where a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) proposes to deploy a new or upgraded base station, MNOs 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, and data on the coverage benefits the proposed base station will provide.

The Government will then select the successful locations in accordance with the ranking process set out in the programme guidelines. The Government expects to announce successful locations under Round 2 of the programme in the second half of 2016. 

The full rollout of new or upgraded base stations funded under round 1 of the programme will occur progressively over the next three years.


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