Optus has secured further Federal and State Government funding to build 83 new mobile transmission sites as part of the fifth round of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot program.
The fifth round will cost $56.1 million to build and includes $25.4 million in Federal funding, $5.3 million in state funding and a co-contribution of $22.2 million from Optus.
The 83 sites are located in NSW, ACT, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and Northern Territory, improving coverage in places such as Rubyvale in Queensland, popular national parks in the Northern Territory, Peebinga in South Australia, the Wheat Belt in Western Australia and the Illawarra train line in NSW.
“These are all areas in need of improved mobile coverage, especially at this crucial time when many families are in isolation and need to stay connected for education, business and personal reasons. We have worked closely with State and Territory Governments as well as some communities in selecting these sites,” Optus vice president regulatory and public affairs Andrew Sheridan said.
Publicly listed telecommunications carrier Field Solutions Group (FSG) has also secured $650,000 in Federal funding, being the first carrier to be awarded funding outside of Telstra, Optus and Vodafone.
The funds will be used towards building up its network coverage in areas such as Narromine, Warren and Bogan Shires in NSW, with network planning to commence in May and construction shortly after.
FSG CEO Andrew Roberts said gaining Federal support will allow the telco to reach more residents, businesses and agricultural businesses. The telco is also on the cusp of announcing a partnership with a tier one telco in the coming weeks that will be co-locating on FSG's infrastructure.
Throughout the past three years, FSG has built a network in rural, regional and remote NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
FSG also plans to apply for funding in round six.
More than 95 Optus co-funded Black Spot sites are already live and have so far carried more than 10 million calls with more than 1.3 million users taking advantage of the new coverage in remote and rural areas such as Innamincka in South Australia and Kalumburu in Western Australia, Sheridan said.
Optus is currently rolling out over 170 Federal funded sites across Australia as part of the second round of the program, Priority Round program and fourth round of the program.
“In the four years Optus has taken part in the program, we have delivered more than 95 sites benefiting more than 17,000 properties in regional and rural parts of Australia, unlocking access to mobile voice, text and data services,” Sheridan said.
Last year, the Government's Mobile Blackspot program received an extra $160 million funding that will be divided in two equal funding rounds.
“Rounds five and six will have a strong focus on improving mobile coverage in our regions at Public Interest Premises which benefit the community such as medical facilities, schools and economic centres," Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie said at the time.
McKenzie said that with government agencies moving more and more services online and growth in demand for data, further investment was necessary.
"The Mobile Black Spot program is connecting our communities to online services, reducing the tyranny of distance for our businesses and helping people communicate when travelling in remote areas," she said.