Australian operators Telstra and Vodafone announced their rollout schedules for installing 78 base stations in five states by the end of July, as part of the country’s Mobile Blackspot Programme to improve mobile coverage in rural or remote areas.
In the first phase of the programme, Telstra, the country’s largest operator, will install 66 sites in Queensland, New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania by the end of June. Number three Vodafone is targeting 12 sites in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania by end July. It will install a total of 70 base stations as part of the programme, with the first switched on in December in NSW.
Telstra MD for networks Mike Wright said: “We can understand the anticipation many have about when mobile base stations will be constructed. Behind the scenes there has been significant work occurring in design planning, community consultations, the formulation and development of planning applications and working with local councils to get the best outcome for everybody.”
Wright said this doesn’t happen overnight and it is working as fast as it can to deliver on its commitments to these towns and communities. He said it has already installed 18 mobile base stations, with the first six switched on in December.
Under the full blackspot programme, Telstra is contributing AUD165 million ($118 million) to assist in the construction of 429 3G/4G base stations across the country that will extend coverage into more than 400 communities where there is little or no coverage. The federal government is providing AUD94.8 million, with tens of millions in additional funding from state and local governments.
Rollout schedules not included in this first six months schedule will be made available as planning progresses for their construction, Wright said.
Telstra’s investment in the blackspot programme is part of its wider AUD5 billion investment in mobile networks over the three years to June 2017.
The government’s mobile blackspot programme has identified 3,000 black-spots nationwide, with the initial phase of the project providing new and upgraded coverage to 68,600 square kilometres in regional Australia. In addition, about 150,000 square kilometres will receive new external antenna coverage and over 5,700 kilometres of major transport routes will receive new coverage, according to the Communications Department’s website.