Abbott Government commits $60 million to Round 2 of Mobile Black Spot Programme
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 will commit $60 million for Round 2 of the successful Mobile Black Spot Programme, with funding available over a two year period from 1 July 2016.
Round 2 of the Programme will fund investments in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage in outer metropolitan, regional and remote Australia, as Round 1 did. The Programme will improve mobile coverage along major transport routes, in small communities and in locations prone to experiencing natural disasters, as well as addressing unique mobile coverage problems such as areas with high seasonal demand.
This $60 million commitment has been included in the 2015-16 budget in the 'Contingency Reserve'.
The announcement is being made at the same time as the Abbott Government announces the results of Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme, with 499 new or upgraded mobile base stations to be provided around Australia.
Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme is expected to operate under similar guidelines to the first round of the Programme, although the Government will review the results of Round 1 to determine if there should be any changes.
Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme will offer further opportunities to meet unmet demand and provide coverage to more locations around regional and remote Australia.
The announcement to invest an additional $60 million of Commonwealth funds means that the work done under the first round of the Programme – in identifying priority locations, engaging with the mobile network operators Telstra, Optus and Vodafone and other industry participants, developing guidelines for a competitive selection process, and in canvassing local councils and state governments for their support – can be leveraged to allow the next round of funding to be deployed efficiently.
Under Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme, a database of 6,221 black spot locations around Australia was developed, being locations nominated by Australians as needing improved mobile coverage. This database was the starting point for the competitive selection process under which the mobile network operators were asked to nominate sites where they would build new or upgraded base stations to serve the black spot locations nominated by the public, and the Government chose from the sites nominated by the mobile network operators using a ranking process specified in the Programme Guidelines.
Following the outcome of Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme, there will be handheld or external antenna coverage to all or part of some 3,000 of these locations.
Those black spot locations which have not received coverage under Round 1 will continue to form part of the database, and this database will again be used in the process of determining locations to receive funding under Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme. In addition, the Government will re-open the database allowing members of the public to nominate further locations in outer metropolitan, regional and remote Australia which do not have mobile coverage. Nominations can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The competitive selection process for Round 2 is expected to commence in 2016, after allowing time for further locations to be nominated by members of the public, and a review of the operation of Round 1. The list of locations to be funded under Round 2 is expected to be announced by the end of 2016.
There is strong community demand for improved mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia – but the previous Labor government failed to allocate a single dollar of public money to address this problem.
By contrast, the Abbott Government is working hard to improve mobile services in regional and remote Australia, and today's commitment to allocate a further $60 million towards the next round of the Mobile Black Spot Programme shows that this work will continue.
Date: 25 June 2015
David Bold, Minister for Communications 0423-202-369
Germaine Graham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications 0413-029-885