Funds to cut mobile black spots

Laura GrubisaGreat Southern Herald
The Federal Government has announced it will invest an additional $20 million.
Camera IconThe Federal Government has announced it will invest an additional $20 million.

The Federal Government has announced it will invest an additional $20 million to improve mobile phone coverage in regional WA over the next two years.

The funding supports a list of 78 sites released by the Government of mobile base stations and small-cell satellite installations that will be constructed by Telstra and Optus.

The new sites will be delivered under round two of the Commonwealth’s Mobile Black Spot Program, which is supported by Royalties for Regions.

The announcement comes almost a month after Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson tabled a petition calling for emergency triple-0 access in mobile phone black spots on November 9.

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Mr Wilson said the Federal Government was committed to eliminating black spots throughout remote Australia.

“Communications is one of the most important issues for many people in O’Connor, given the sporadic nature of mobile coverage throughout the electorate,” he said.

“I have to drive to the highest point at my family’s farm near Katanning to get a signal, so I certainly sympathise with my constituents who live in areas where reception is patchy at best.

“Eighty-six towers across the first two rounds is a great result but there’s more work to be done, so I’ll be working to secure more base stations under round three of the Mobile Black Spot Program.”

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said the project aimed to eliminate mobile black spots at prioritised locations in regional WA.

“This successful collaboration with the Commonwealth and industry will provide development opportunities for small businesses in remote areas, and mobile connectivity to support other Royalties for Regions initiatives in tourism, transport and agriculture,” he said.

“Tourism is a big winner with new coverage at 10 popular national parks, including Karijini in the Pilbara, Leeuwin-Naturaliste in the South West and Cape Le Grand near Esperance.

“Mobile service will also be introduced at seven popular visitor sites along the iconic Gibb River Road in the Kimberley, and coverage gaps will be eliminated along a 600km stretch of the Great Northern Highway between Wubin and Narracoota.”

Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said the significant investment of more than $105 million since 2012 in regional telecommunications was driving the construction of new or upgraded mobile phone towers and small-cell satellite installations in regional WA.

“More than 146 sites have already been switched on in regional WA since 2012, with another 198 to be rolled out by the end of 2019,” he said.

“This new investment will provide development opportunities for small business in remote areas and ensure that people living, working and travelling in regional areas of the State have access to key services.”

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