A network of new and upgraded mobile phone base stations is to be built across the Outback, dramatically improving coverage for grey nomads travelling in remote Australia.
The federal and state governments have teamed up with Telstra and Vodafone in a $385 million program to fill in black spots. Together, the new and upgraded base stations will provide improved mobile reception and coverage to 68,600 square kilometres and new external antenna coverage to over 150,000 square kilometres. Over 5,700 kilometres of major transport routes will also receive new handheld or external antenna coverage.
There will be 144 new and upgraded base stations built across NSW, 110 in Victoria, 68 in Queensland, 130 in Western Australia, 11 in South Australia, 31 in Tasmania and five in the Northern Territory.
The Business Spectator reports that the program means places like Leeuwin in Western Australia, Cape Otway in Victoria, Gooloogong in New South Wales, Dingo in Queensland, Lulworth in Tasmania, Imanpa in Northern Territory and Fregon in South Australia will see big mobile coverage improvements.
The mobile black spots program will see Telstra emerge with the bulk of the grants, securing $94.5m from the federal government and another $80m from state and local governments to roll out 429 new 3G/4G towers over the next three years, plus a further 250 4G data only-small cells. Telstra will also spend $165m of its own money to help in the build.
Vodafone has secured around $20m in funding, which will be matched by $20m of its own money to build 70 base stations.
The first base stations funded under the program will be rolled out before the end of 2015 and the rollout will continue for a three-year period.
The Federal government has separately announced it will fund a Mobile Black Spot Program Round 2, with an allocation of $60 million.
* Do you get frustrated with the lack of mobile phone coverage in some remote areas? Where in particular would you like to see improvements? Comment below.