A further 26 mobile communication black spots will be eliminated in WA, following a $14.6 million investment to improve coverage in regional areas as part of round four of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program.
Federal Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie announced the locations today, which include Arrowsmith East, Ngurrawaana, Tampu and at the Tjukayirla Roadhouse.
Telstra will build 23 and Optus will build three of the towers.
The MSBP program in WA includes $4.3 million funding from the Commonwealth and a further $4.3 million from the WA Government. Other contributions come from mobile network operators led by Telstra, local governments, businesses and local communities.
Ms McKenzie said reliable and effective mobile communications were a key driver of the enormous contribution that the regions make to Australia’s economic growth.
“Greater availability of mobile services is a big deal. It means staying safe in remote areas, keeping in contact with family and friends, unlocking access to online health and education services as well as increased tourism and business opportunities,” she said.
The MBSP is delivering 1047 new base stations and generating over $760 million of new investment in mobile infrastructure including contributions from state and local governments, mobile network operators, businesses and local communities.
Base stations under the first three rounds are scheduled to be operational by 30 June 2019. Round four base stations are expected to roll out shortly with the first new base stations being activated by the second half of the year.
Telstra chief executive Andy Penn said mobile coverage meant people and businesses in regional and remote communities could do things many in the city take for granted, whether it is streaming sports, movies and television, working remotely or just staying in touch.
The MBSP is an example of the effectiveness of Government partnering with the private sector to deliver benefits for communities, Telstra said.
“Our investments will help towns and communities relying on mobile connected devices more than ever before,” Mr Penn said.
State Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan, who had been critical that WA had not received its fair share in the last MBSP funding round, said the 26 new towers represented a real win for WA.
“After receiving just seven base towers in the last round of this program, announced with no consultation with the State Government, we’ve been working hard to secure a fairer deal for our regions – and one that reflects our State’s needs,” she said.
“Our regional areas deserve the same access to telecommunications as people in Perth, and our investment will help to expand mobile coverage to those who need it most.
“This State investment is just one of a suite of McGowan Government programs to drive better connectivity in the bush – including our $5 million Digital Farm program, which will bring enterprise-grade broadband to more than 1200 WA farming businesses.”