Coalition to spend $100m on mobile blackspots



blog Did you know there were other telecommunications-related issues being discussed in the Federal Election campaign than the National Broadband Network? No? Neither did I. But there apparently are. According to the Herald Sun (we recommend you click here for the full article), the Coalition is planning to spend $100 million on fixing mobile blackspots, principally, it appears, by co-locating new mobile infrastructure with NBN wireless towers. The Hun tells us:

“The Opposition Leader will today pledge that if the Coalition wins the election, the money will be spent over four years to build base stations in regional, remote and outer metropolitan areas to improve mobile phone coverage.”

To be honest, this is a little bit of a weird policy, at first look. It simply doesn’t make much sense for NBN Co to be building out its own mobile infrastructure, as the Herald Sun’s article implies. It would make quite a bit more sense if what the Coalition is actually doing is planning a direct subsidy to companies like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to deploy mobile coverage further out in the regions, to fix blackspots. And it would make sense for the Government to volunteer NBN Co’s wireless tower infrastructure to help with such an effort. But if the Coalition is truly planning to deploy its own cell tower network, that is something which we would question. More details as we get them.

Update: We’ve received the following statement from Communications Minister Anthony Albanese and Regional Communications Minister Sharon Bird:

The Coalition has no credibility when it comes to delivering telecommunications to regional and rural Australia, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Anthony Albanese said today.

“While I welcome Tony Abbott and the Coalition’s belated interest in regional communities, it’s a pity they couldn’t be bothered ‘fixing’ the issue the last time they were in government, despite having 12 years to do so. Now they expect us to believe that given a second chance they will do the job right. They must think we’re all mugs.”

“When the Coalition was last in Government, they abandoned regional Australia when they privatised Telstra. This delivered nothing to regional Australia except higher prices and less competition. The Coalition presided over 22 failed broadband plans and voted 14 times against Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN), the largest ever investment in regional telecommunications in our country’s history. If elected, the Coalition will slug regional Australians with higher prices for broadband than people living in the cities. The Liberals and Nationals simply can’t be trusted when it comes to delivering better and more affordable telecommunications for regional Australia.”

Minister for Regional Communications, Sharon Bird said the Coalition’s mobile black spot policy will have limited impact.

“Through the Rudd Labor Government’s NBN fixed wireless rollout, hundreds of towers are already being built across regional, rural, and outer metropolitan Australia. “NBN Co has already entered into agreements with both Telstra and Optus to use NBN infrastructure to improve mobile coverage. This approach allows better mobile coverage for customers and more choice for people in rural and regional areas.”


  1. So how is this going to work, are they expecting the mobile providers to integrate these new towers into their networks as a shared infrastructure between all providers? Are they going to charge the telco’s to achieve a ROI of some sort. Who is going to run these sites, will it be the responsibility of NBNCo to run these as well as their own networks?

    More importantly, has anyone asked NBNCo if putting more 4G Cells (assuming 4G) on their existing towers will cause any interference with their existing Cells?

    This sounds more and more like Policy on the run, with no though or consultation beforehand. Would be good to see this plan fleshed out somewhat more.

    • Probably similar to the current mobile carrier coalition which sorts out putting common towers in places of low demand.

  2. That’s rather bizzare, I seem to recall reading on Delimiter a while ago MT blasting Labour stating that their Wireless towers were competing with the mobile carriers (I pointed out at the time that Fixed Wireless != Mobile broadband).

  3. This is money just wasted. It doesnt create very many jobs and makes the Liberal Party a bigger friend of big companies

  4. Why don’t they just spend $100M on subsidising sat phones? Or perhaps subsidise tower space and backhaul where NBNco have equipment? The mobile market is perhaps the only part of the telco industry that functions normally (mostly), I wouldn’t be too quick to fiddle with it if I were them.

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