Telstra and the Victorian state government are investing a total of $5.4 million into overhauling regional connectivity as part of the state’s $550 million Connecting Victoria program.
Out of the total investment, $3.2 million will be spent to improve mobile coverage between Wemen and Beverford in northern Victoria with three new 4G mobile base stations at Annuello, Wandown and Beverford, as well as a new 4G mobile small cell at Woorinen South.
As part of this leg of the upgrade, Telstra and the Victorian government will partner with almond farm Olam Orchards, which is based in the area, and is expected to make use of the new connectivity by increasing its use of robotics in farm activities such as pest spraying and harvesting.
“This project will be a fantastic boost for businesses and farmers in the region, who rely on having good internet and mobile connections to expand and grow,” said Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp.
Meanwhile, the remaining $2.2 million will be spent on improving 4G mobile capacity and resilience in Mallacoota, which is considered a priority for the area's Mallacoota and District Recovery Association (MADRA) and features in its disaster recovery plan.
The upgrades are expected to assist the recovery of the area from the 2019-20 bushfires by helping it deal with an increase in connectivity during tourist season.
“It’s been heartbreaking to see Mallacoota hit by the 2019-20 bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic, so we’re pleased to be helping residents and businesses on their path to recovery,” said Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford.
“These new mobile base stations will ensure locals and visitors are connected and protected during emergencies like bushfires and floods.”
Telstra’s part in overhauling regional Victoria connectivity comes as it announced last month its intentions of being guided by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee about where to spend the $75 million earned from its part sale of its InfraCo Towers business.
The telco also released its results for the 2020 financial year earlier this month, which saw it boost its profit to $1.9 billion and announced an on-market share buy-back of up to $1.35 billion.