darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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June 25, 2015

Mobile phone blackspots across Gippsland are being targeted with a $7.6 million boost to build 10 new or upgraded base stations in the region, announced Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester said the Federal Government’s mobile phone blackspots program had been well supported by the State Government and the telecommunications industry in Gippsland.

“Mobile phone users are set to be the big winners,” Mr Chester said.

“$7.6 million will improve mobile phone coverage in many parts of Gippsland, which is good for industry, good for tourism and good for local families in emergency situations like bushfires and floods.

“The previous Labor Government refused to fund a mobile phone blackspots program but I’m pleased that the Coalition Government has listened to my years of lobbying on this issue and provided $100 million in Federal funding to be shared across Australia.

“Our share of the funding isn’t going to fix every blackspot but it’s a great start and there will be a further round of funding where we can seek additional money for more base stations in the future.”

Under the program, the Federal Government is providing $2.61 million to Gippsland with the rest of the costs to be shared by the State Government and the telecommunications industry.

New base stations will be located at Austin’s Hill, Benambra, Bonang, Buchan South, Butcher’s Ridge, Carrajung Lower, Gormandale, Sarsfield, Tongio and Glen Valley.

Mr Chester said the focus on rural and remote regions, along with improving mobile phone coverage on major transport links, was the right approach for communities like Gippsland.

“In my submission to the Minister and during our discussions on this issue, I emphasised the need to improve coverage along our major transport routes which is critical for business and in case of emergency,” Mr Chester said.

“I also highlighted the problems with coverage in some of our most bushfire prone regions where locals and visitors could not rely on receiving emergency services updates.

“This program is a great example of governments working together with industry to achieve a result which would not have been possible without that co-operation.”

With the formal announcement made today, Mr Chester said the telecommunications industry would now work with local government on planning approvals and construction over the next 12 months.

“Obviously we want the improved coverage as soon as possible and I will work with local councils and the Telcos to get the job done as soon as possible,” Mr Chester said.

Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher said that the outcomes of the Mobile Black Spot Program had exceeded expectations due the successful leveraging
of significant co-contributions.

“Both Telstra and Vodafone have been granted funding to build new or upgraded base stations. In addition, the mobile network operator selected to build a base station must give the other mobile network operators the opportunity to co-locate on that base station,” Mr Fletcher said.

Under Round 1 of the Mobile Black Spot Program, a database of 6,221 locations around Australia was developed, nominated by Australians as areas needing improved mobile coverage. This database was the starting point for the competitive selection process under which the mobile network operators were asked to nominate sites where they would build new or upgraded base stations to serve the black spot locations nominated by the public, and the Government chose from the sites nominated by the mobile network operators using a ranking process specified in the guidelines.

The Government will re-open the database allowing members of the public to nominate further locations in outer metropolitan, regional and remote Australia which do not have mobile coverage. Nominations can be emailed to mobilecoverage@communications.gov.au

The first base stations will begin to roll out in the second half of 2015, and the full roll out will continue over the next three years.

CAPTION:
Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher and Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester announced a $7.6 million boost to mobile phone coverage, with 10 new or upgraded base stations to be built in the region.

 

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