While some people cannot carry out their day with a mobile phone, many on the periphery of Australia fail to share the same experience. The Australian Federal Government is being proactive to address the growing issue of low connectivity in rural and remote areas.
The Mobile Black Spot Programme, announced under former Prime Minister Tony Abbot, is being upheld by the new Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull. Through this program, mobile services will be provided in remote areas throughout Australia. Telecommunications providers, Vodafone and Telstra, will assist in activating service through the various base stations.
The ‘mobile black spots’ are identified areas with lack of advanced coverage. To become part of the program, these locations were nominated by Australians during a public consultation.
Around 3000 black spots will be targeted and improved over the course of the program. 500 new or upgraded base stations will be installed to help these areas obtain greater connectivity.
This programme is split into two rounds, so as to allocate proper time and materials to each location. The Government has pledged $100 million through Round 1 of the program and $60 million for Round 2. In addition, 5 state governments have pledged partnership with the Federal Government to co-fund base stations.
Round 1of the project will aim to provide an additional 68,600 square kilometres of coverage to those with mobile phones. It will also launch an additional 150,000 kilometres of coverage for those with external antennas for mobile broadband.
Vodafone, running 70 of the planned base stations, felt that these areas were neglected for far too long. The company was enthusiastic about the opportunity to increase mobile coverage and competition.
"Mobile customers in regional Australia have been disadvantaged for far too long with inadequate coverage and a lack of effective competition", Vodafone's director of strategy Dan Lloyd said, "We've invested $3 billion in our new mobile network in the last three years. This federal funding will allow us to extend our network into more parts of Australia".
Telstra is planned to run 429 of the remaining 430 base stations.
Round 2of the programme is expected to operate under similar guidelines as the first round. However, changes may be made after reviewing the results of Round 1. This round of the programme aims to expand its reach to areas with unmet demand in remote Australia.
Round 2 locations to be funded by the programme will be announced by quarter 4 of 2016.
An interactive map of the locations showing the Black Spot Database and Funded Base Stations can be found here.