The Victorian Government has supported a bid for funding under the Federal Government’s $100 million Mobile Black Spot Programme.
The objective of the program is to provide increased mobile phone coverage in outer metropolitan, regional and remote Australia.
The guidelines for the program specifically provide for ‘co-contributions’ from other levels of government and from other sources such as businesses, and have been designed to leverage additional funding contributions from state governments and other sources.
The announcement follows a commitment by the NSW Government to allocate $25 million to improved mobile coverage, working in conjunction with the Commonwealth program, and a commitment of $35 million by the WA Government.
Parliamentary secretary to the minister for communications, Paul Fletcher, said it was pleasing that state governments were working with the Commonwealth to maximise the amount of funding available.
Under the Programme, the three mobile network operators, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, have until Thursday, April 16, to lodge proposals for funding.
The proposals must specify the locations at which they would propose to build new or upgraded mobile phone base stations, and for each proposed base station it must provide information including the amount of funding sought from the Commonwealth, the amount the mobile network operator will contribute, and the amount of co-contribution, if any, secured from other sources.
This mechanism allows state governments which wish to provide funding to allocate that funding to locations which the state considers to be of particular importance.
The Victorian Government has indicated that Victorian Emergency Management commissioner, Craig Lapsley, played a significant role in developing the submission to the Mobile Black Spot Programme and that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Telstra.
Fletcher said the determination of which proposed base stations were to receive Commonwealth funding would be made in accordance with the published guidelines for the Programme.
"It is a competitive selection process and the Commonwealth Government will carefully assess all proposals received,’ he said.
"The guidelines provide for decisions to be made on a base station by base station basis rather than a single decision to choose one or other mobile network operator."
Following the assessment process, the government aims to announce the locations which have been chosen for funding by June 30.