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Nine mobile phone towers across Gippsland will be upgraded so they will still work if there is a blackout during or after a natural disaster.

Local MP Darren Chester said the Telstra would extend the life of back-up batteries at the mobile phone towers to provide a minimum of 12 hours of power.

“During the summer bushfires mobile phones became useless when the phone towers lost power and there was no mobile reception,” Mr Chester said.

“In times of emergency or natural disaster, reliable telecommunications are essential and can save lives.

“We can’t have another situation where Gippslanders and visitors are left without mobile phone reception at a time when they need it most.

“This investment in our essential infrastructure will allow mobile towers to continue to operate for at least 12 hours after the power is lost.”

The mobile phone towers to be upgraded in Gippsland are located in:

  • Dargo
  • Macks Creek
  • Bonang
  • Buchan South
  • Butchers Ridge
  • Carrajung Lower
  • Sarsfield
  • Tongio
  • Traralgon South

Mr Chester said telecommunications upgrades were an essential part of the region’s recovery from the bushfires.

“As we rebuild from the fires, we have a valuable opportunity to address some of the issues that arose during the emergency.

That includes improving the resilience of our telecommunications network,” Mr Chester said.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher said telecommunications, including mobile phone towers, needed reliable power sources to operate.

“Telecommunications – including mobile phone towers – rely on power to operate,” Mr Fletcher said. “This investment will allow mobile phone towers to keep operating for at least 12 hours after the power goes out, making a real difference for communities during and after a natural disaster.”

The Federal Government is providing a total of $13.2 million to Telstra, Optus and TPG to extend the battery back-up at 4667 mobile phone towers across Australia under stage one of the $18 million Mobile Network Hardening Program.

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