What is Telco’s commitment to the mobile blackspot program?

60 second intro

In recent news is has been announced that both Telstra and Vodafone have contributed to the government’s blackspot program by increasing mobile coverage. But what does this mean for Australian consumers and mobile users which live in blackspot areas? Read on in the following article to learn more.

  • The Australian blackspot program has been introduced to increase mobile phone coverage in remote and rural areas of the country.
  • National carriers Telstra and Vodafone Australia have both been awarded around $60 million to help fund the upgrading and creation of new mobile base stations and towers.
  • Telstra has also introduced smart cell technology to help with increasing rural coverage of mobile phone users.

So what is the blackspot program?

The Australian government has introduced the blackspot program to increase mobile coverage throughout Australia.

The program has been designed to increase coverage by more than 68,600 square kilometres.

This has been completed by the addition of 499 brand new mobile base stations, as well as the upgrading of existing ones.

Across Australia mobile base stations have been upgraded to include an external antenna, which will assist with increasing coverage.

This additional coverage would extend to 150,000 square kilometres, along with a further 68,600 square kilometres.

Reception along major transport routes has been one of the coverage upgrade priorities during the roll out.

Along with the national carrier Telstra, Vodafone Australia has also invested $20 million for the first round of the program.

When it comes to the various states in Australia, each have also contributed funds to the nation wide blackspot program.

Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania have all respectively contributed money.

A second round of funding, valued at around $60 million, will be completed in the coming weeks, with locations set to be announced later this year.

Telstra connecting rural areas

The Australian government and national carrier Telstra, have together announced the 135 remote and rural locations.

These remote locations will receive 4G mobile network connectivity, as small cells technology is deployed.

This deployment is part of the government’s mobile mobile blackspot program and will enhance connectivity in rural areas of the country.

The upgraded infrastructure will provide regional mobile phone users with a more reliable connection at all times.

For residents which live within 300 metres of the new small cells, mobile reception will be greatly increased.

The small cells will be able to deliver improved mobile data coverage for both local businesses and residents.

The new technology is a fantastic way in which mobile data services can be quickly accessed in remote and regional communities.

This is in direct comparison to using other technologies where it may be otherwise not economical to do so.

“These sites complement the new mobile base stations being rolled out under the Mobile Black Spot Programme by targeting small, localised blackspots where access to data services is a problem. In the future, these small cells will also be able to support voice services as the technology for 4G voice becomes available.” – Fiona Nash, Regional Communications Minister.

Telstra rolling out smart cells

The small cell technology sites have been funded by Telstra and are being installed with the provided government funding.

In addition to the small cells, an additional 429 base stations have been built or upgraded by Telstra since the initiative was launched.

Telstra was awarded with $94.8 million in funding from the Australian government.

This funding was part of round one of the blackspot program with additional rounds set to follow in the coming years.

At the time of making the bid for the project, Telstra pledged to further expand their mobile data services.

Telstra’s core objective was to maximise new coverage to regional and remote communities in Australia.

The national Telco has been working in partnership with the federal government, to identify primary locations for the small cell technology.

An important aspect of the blackspot initiative, has been to deploy this innovative mobile technology.

Historically remote and rural areas have suffered from poor mobile reception and connectivity, so smart cell technology helps to change this.

Smart cells, or more technically “miniature base stations” as they are known in the industry, currently only provide data services.

Telstra has announced that their next move it to roll out VoLTE (Voice over LTE) technology to allow mobile users to make voice calls.

Vodafone Australia and Telstra

In December 2014, the federal government blackspot funding program was opened.

National Telco’s Vodafone Australia and Telstra, both secured funding worth $185 million from the federal government.

The funding was for the first round of the program and was used by the Telco’s to build and upgrade 499 mobile towers.

Vodafone Australia has committed to building 70 new cell towers, while Telstra plans to build 429.

The full roll out by both national carriers is set to be completed by the end of next year.

Telstra was also commissioned to install what’s known as “small cells” in rural and regional areas of the country.

This will provide small towns with access to 4G services, where existing infrastructure is available.

The federal government has also just announced that the second round of the blackspot program will take place in December.

This second round will make available an additional $60 million for the Telco’s participating.

The Coalition government led by Malcolm Turnbull, pledged a further $60 million to fund the third round of the program.

A further 900 mobile towers have been earmarked to be constructed, should the government be re-elected.

“The biggest complaint about telecommunications is ‘my mobile phone wont work’. So we had our first round, when we committed AU$100 million and leveraged AU$380 million total expenditure for just under 500 new base stations, which addressed 3,000 out of 6,000 nominated blackspots.” – Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Prime Minister.

In Summary

The federal government blackspot program has been designed to increase coverage in regional and rural areas.

For people living in rural areas when it comes to mobile phone coverage, this has been one of the longest running issues.

Many mobile phone users live in regional and rural areas of Australia and are without access to reliable mobile phone coverage.

Stage one of the blackspot program is underway and bidding to be held later this year for stage two.

With the impressive work undertaken so far by both Telstra and Vodafone Australia, progress on this is being made.

The blackspot program is a great initiative and by the end of stage three, should see upwards of 900 further blackspots removed.


Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.