The Australian Government is improving mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Program.

The Australian Government has committed $220 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program to invest in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage along major regional transport routes, in small communities and in locations prone to natural disasters.

Together rounds 1 and 2 will deliver almost $600 million in new investment towards improving mobile coverage in regional and remote Australia. This $600 million investment is enabling the delivery of:

  • 765 new and upgrade mobile base stations
  • 86,300 square kilometres of new and upgraded handheld coverage
  • 202,300 square kilometres of new external antenna coverage
  • over 7,600 kilometres new coverage to major transport routes.

Round 1

Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Program is already delivering 499 new and upgraded mobile base stations across the country. These base stations will collectively provide:

  • new handheld coverage to 68,600 square kilometres
  • new external antenna coverage to over 150,000 square kilometres of regional Australia
  • new handheld or external antenna coverage to over 5,700 kilometres of major transport routes.

The collective total being invested in the 499 base stations under round 1 of the program is $385 million. The Australian Government funding for round 1 has been supplemented by Telstra ($165 million) and Vodafone ($20 million).

In addition, five state governments have co-contributed towards round 1: New South Wales ($24 million), Victoria ($21 million), Queensland ($10 million), Western Australia ($32 million) and Tasmania ($0.35 million). An additional $1.7 million has been provided by local governments, businesses and community organisations.

Information about Telstra's 429 round 1 base stations is available on its website which is updated regularly. The website shows the status of construction and enables users to search for base stations being rolled out in their area, including those which have been completed to date.

Information about the rollout of all of Vodafone's round 1 base stations is available on its website and shows the expected completion date of the 70 base stations to be funded under round 1, including those which have been completed to date.

The first round 1 base stations commenced rolling out in December 2015. The full rollout of all 499 mobile base stations funded under round 1 is expected to occur over three years. The rollout sequence is being determined by Telstra and Vodafone based on various factors, such as obtaining local government planning approval and landowner agreement where necessary, and/or the ability to access existing infrastructure, power and backhaul.

Round 2

On 1 December 2016, the Australian Government announced that round 2 of the program will deliver 266 new or upgraded mobile base stations across the country.

These mobile base stations will collectively provide:

  • new and upgraded handheld coverage to over 17,700 square kilometres of regional and remote Australia
  • new external antenna coverage to over 52,300 square kilometres
  • new mobile coverage to over 1,900 kilometres of major transport routes.

Round 2 will see a total of $213 million (GST incl.) being invested in new mobile base station infrastructure. The Australian Government funding for round 2 has been supplemented by Telstra ($63.7 million) Optus ($36.4 million) and Vodafone ($1.6 million).

In addition, six state governments have co-contributed towards round 2: New South Wales ($8.3 million), Queensland ($13.7 million), South Australia ($1.5 million), Tasmania ($0.35 million), Victoria ($7.9 million) and Western Australia ($21.8 million). An additional $475,000 has been provided by local governments, businesses and community organisations.

The first round 2 base stations are expected to commence rolling out in 2017. The successful applicants (Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) will release indicative rollout schedules on their websites shortly. These schedules will be regularly updated as the rollout progresses.

Eligibility of locations receiving 4G small cells through round 1 of the program

Telstra is deploying up to 200 4G small cells under round 1 of the program, which is in addition to the 429 mobile base stations for which Telstra received funding under round 1. As these 4G small cells do not provide 3G mobile services, receiving a 4G small cell did not cause a location to be ineligible for a mobile base station under round 2 of the program (in accordance with the eligibility criterion at section 2.2.1(b) of the round 2 Guidelines).

Round 3

The Australian Government has committed an additional $60 million to a third round of funding.
As part of this commitment, the Australian Government has announced a number of priority locations which may receive funding for a mobile base station under round 3.

A competitive process to allocate round 3 funding is expected to commence in 2017.

Mobile black spot location database

The database of reported mobile black spot locations closed for new nominations on 15 January 2016. The database was provided to the mobile network operators to assist them to prepare their funding proposals for round 2.

Contacts

Mobile Black Spot Program
GPO Box 2154
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Email: mobilecoverage [at] communications.gov.au

Tel: 1800 113 486 (freecall from a landline)

Additional information and resources

Round 1 funded base stations

Round 2 funded base stations

Discussion paper

Documents

Mobile Black Spot Programme—round 2 guidelines—version 1.1

Published

Download PDF (882.37 KB) Download DOC (800.71 KB)
These Guidelines were released by the Department of Communications and the Arts on 26 February 2016 to assist mobile network operators and mobile network infrastructure providers to prepare and submit proposals for funding under Round 2 of the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme.

Mobile Black Spot Programme—round 1 guidelines

Published

Download PDF (730.24 KB) Download DOC (134.04 KB)
These Guidelines were released by the Department of Communications on 8 December 2014 to assist mobile network operators and mobile network infrastructure providers to prepare and submit proposals for funding under the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme.