news Telstra has made the first improvements to areas with poor mobile coverage as part of the government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme.
The firm’s customers in Cheepie and Marlborough in Queensland, and Deniliquin in New South Wales are now benefitting from the improved coverage provided by the scheme.
These areas are the first of 429 communities across Australia to benefit from additional 3G and 4G coverage provided by Telstra under the Federal Government’s black spot programme, with a number of additional sites expected to be switched on in days.
Mike Wright, Telstra’s Group Managing Director, Networks, said the expansion of mobile coverage in Cheepie, Marlborough and Deniliquin was another example of Telstra’s ability to work with the government to deliver innovative programs that expand services to regional and rural Australia.
“This is a significant step in Telstra’s efforts to deliver improved mobile coverage to regional communities across Australia,” Wright said. “The growing use of mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets [is] changing the way we live and we are acutely aware of the challenges facing communities living with limited access to a mobile network.”
“As the first carrier to bring 4G mobile services to regional Australia, we know how important high-speed mobile can be to supporting local businesses and education and we are excited to bring it to even more parts of Australia,” he added.
Over the next three years, Telstra will upgrade or build new mobile base stations in black spots across regional Australia as part of the government scheme.
The rollout schedule will be determined in consultation with federal and state governments and is subject to the planning process.
The Mobile Black Spot Programme brings an investment of more than $340 million in regional Australia, with $165 million coming from Telstra, $94.8 million from the Federal Government and tens of millions in targeted additional funding from state and local governments.
In addition to the new mobile base stations, Telstra will install 250 small cells (low-powered mobile access stations for very short ranges) to deliver high-speed 4G data services in some small country towns where suitable Telstra infrastructure is available.
Telstra will also continue to invest its own funds to expand its mobile coverage in regional areas, the firm said.
“In total, over three years to June 2017 we expect to have invested more than $5 billion into Telstra’s mobile network,” said Wright.
The government’s actions on the mobile blackspot issue has not been without its critics, however.
In August, the then-Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Anthony Albanese said: “The Coalition has no credibility when it comes to delivering telecommunications to regional and rural Australia.
“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.”