Turnbull commits $60M to eliminate mobile black spots in Australia

By @chelean on
A customer holds an iPhone 6s during the official launch at the Apple store in central Sydney, Australia, September 25, 2015.
A customer holds an iPhone 6s during the official launch at the Apple store in central Sydney, Australia, September 25, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

The Turnbull Coalition Government has pledged an additional $60 million to eliminate mobile black spots in Australia. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the extra fund will cover locations that have not previously received funding.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone – Australia’s largest telcos – provide coverage to 99 percent of the population, which is 25 percent of the country’s landmass. Other areas, mostly regional communities, have weak to non-existent reception coverage. Over 6,000 mobile black spots across the country exist today.

The additional $60 million funding, which brings the total investment to $220 million, will cover locations that have been overlooked by network operators because they are uncommercial or have not previously received funding under the Coalition’s Mobile Black Spot Program.

“Better mobile coverage means a quicker response to car accidents or bushfires’ tourism operators can attract more guests’ children can research school assignments online or adults can study at university online; farmers can sell their crops on the futures markets while sitting on the tractor; and people don’t miss out on business or social calls or texts,” the statement reads.

“The Coalition’s $220 million plan to address mobile black spots will enhance productivity and improve public safety, making life easier for those living in regional and remote areas thanks to access to more reliable mobile phone coverage.”

The phase one of the program was supplemented by Telstra, which has invested $165 million of its own funds to build 429 new 3G and 4GX sites, and Vodafone, which has invested $20 million to build 70 bases in NSW, Tasmania, QLD, WA and VIC by the end of 2017.

Turnbull is expected to make the announcement in the marginal Victorian seat of Corangamite, where 166 mobile black spot locations have been nominated.

Labor has yet to reveal its solution to mobile coverage issues.