The Australian government announced that the second round of its mobile black spot programme will deploy 266 new or upgraded base stations to improve mobile coverage in rural and remote areas.

The federal government is investing AUD213 million ($158 million) in the second round of the programme, which is being supplemented by funding from Telstra (AUD63.7 million) Optus (AUD36.4 million) and Vodafone (AUD1.6 million).

The new base stations will expand coverage to more than 17,700 square kilometres in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. The six state governments also have co-contributed a total of AUD53.5 million, with an additional AUD475,000 provided by local governments, businesses and community organisations.

The base stations are expected to be rolled out from next year.

The black spot programme was announced more than a year ago and is investing AUD385 million ($297 million) in the first round to build 499 base stations in remote locations over three years.

Telstra COO Brendon Riley said it will build 148 mobile base stations in round two, after committing to building base stations in 429 locations selected in round one.

Riley said Telstra partnered with a number of state governments to identify priority areas under round two. “We listened closely to local communities and put forward another strong bid in the competitive tender process,” he said.

“The round two locations will soon be incorporated into our black spot rollout schedule and should be online within the next two years.”