Mobile Black Spot Programme to deliver almost 500 new or upgraded base stations with total investment of $385 million
25 June 2015
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MP, PRIME MINISTER
THE HON. MALCOLM TURNBULL MP, MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
THE HON. PAUL FLETCHER MP,
PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
The Abbott Government's Mobile Black Spot Programme will deliver almost 500 new or upgraded mobile base stations around Australia – 429 Telstra base stations and 70 Vodafone base stations.
This is the most significant one time increase in mobile network coverage to outer metropolitan, regional and remote Australia delivered by a single public funding programme in the history of mobile communications in Australia.
The new and upgraded base stations will provide new handheld coverage to 68,600 square kilometres and new external antenna coverage to over 150,000 square kilometres, and over 5,700 kilometres of major transport routes will receive new handheld or external antenna coverage.
There will be handheld or external antenna coverage to all or part of around 3,000 of the black spot locations nominated by Australians, in the public consultation phase of this Programme, as not having mobile coverage – almost half of the 6,221 black spot locations originally nominated. This is because many base stations will serve multiple nominated black spot locations.
The total to be invested in new and upgraded base stations under the Programme is $385 million, significantly exceeding expectations. This reflects close cooperation between the Commonwealth Government and other levels of government, and strong proposals from the mobile network operators in response to the competitive selection process.
The Commonwealth funding commitment of $100 million (ex GST) was supplemented by funding commitments from the governments of NSW ($24 million), Victoria ($21 million), Queensland ($10 million), Western Australia ($32 million) and Tasmania ($0.35 million), as well as around $1.7 million from local governments, businesses and community organisations.
In addition to the Commonwealth and state government funding commitments, the Programme has leveraged significant private sector investment – Telstra will spend $165 million over three years and Vodafone $20 million over three years.
There is a broad national spread of new and upgraded base stations across NSW (144), Victoria (110), Queensland (68), Western Australia (130), South Australia (11), Tasmania (31) and Northern Territory (5).
The successful locations were chosen following a competitive selection process, with the mobile network operators asked to nominate sites where they would build new or upgraded base stations to serve the black spot locations nominated by the public. The Government selected the locations in accordance with the ranking process in the Programme guidelines issued publicly in December 2014.
The first base stations funded under the Programme will be rolled out before the end of 2015 and the rollout will continue for a three year period. The rollout sequence will be determined by Telstra and Vodafone based on various factors including obtaining local government planning approvals for new base stations; the Government will closely monitor rollout performance and ensure that regular public updates are provided.
This Programme aims to stimulate competition in mobile services in regional and remote Australia, and it is pleasing that two of the three mobile network operators secured significant funding. In addition, under the Programme rules the mobile network operator selected to build a base station must give the other mobile network operators the opportunity to co-locate on that base station, in advance of the design for the base station being settled.
The Abbott Government has separately announced today that it will fund a Mobile Black Spot Programme Round 2, with an allocation of $60 million.
In addition, as part of Telstra's proposal, it will build up to 200 4G mini base stations in locations in small towns around Australia where suitable infrastructure is available, with the locations to be mutually agreed between Telstra and the Government. These mini base stations will provide mobile data coverage in a radius of around 200-300 metres and will support voice services as the technology for 4G based voice becomes available.
The Government expects to agree the locations for the 4G mini base stations with Telstra during the second half of 2015, with the rollout of the 4G mini base stations to commence after that.
Both the Mobile Black Spot Round 2 Programme, and Telstra's commitment to build 200 new 4G mini base stations, offer further opportunities to meet unmet demand and provide coverage to more locations around regional and remote Australia, in addition to the new or upgraded base stations announced today.
A map of locations which will receive new or upgraded coverage under the first round of funding of the Mobile Black Spot Programme is available from http://nationalmap.gov.au/
Date: 25 June 2015
David Bold, Minister for Communications 0423-202-369
Germaine Graham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications 0413-029-885