Australian operator Optus detailed an AUD5.3 million ($3.6 million) investment in infrastructure in New South Wales, plotting a series of tower moves to bolster service availability in areas hardest hit by wildfires in 2019 and 2020.

The operator is planning to build or upgrade a total of eight towers in Shoalhaven, an area of the state it noted was heavily hit by bushfires. Optus stated the investment is one of its most-significant in the region to date and will deliver improvements in coverage, reliability and data rates.

Optus territory general manager Nick Gibson stated the so-called Black Summer bushfires “highlighted the importance of mobile connectivity for effective response and recovery efforts”.

The operator’s tower move will benefit emergency services and residents “during a crisis”, Gibson noted.

Optus also cited broader benefits for local businesses and tourists, with Gibson highlighting a busy period during the recent Australian summer months as hiking demand for mobile services.

Investments to-date have already begun to deliver improved coverage of 5G services, Optus stated.