Improved mobile coverage for Western Australia: Mobile Black Spot Program funds 63 new base stations

More Australians living in regional and remote Western Australia will benefit from new and improved mobile coverage under Round 5 of the Morrison McCormack Government’s highly successful $380 million Mobile Black Spot Program.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, the Hon Mark Coulton MP and the Western Australian Minister for Regional Development, the Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC, today announced the locations of 63 new base stations to be delivered in Western Australia under Round 5, providing improved mobile coverage in regional and remote communities.

The new sites include base stations at the Warnackes Quarantine Station, Koomberkine North and Miamoon.

Minister Fletcher said, “The announcement of successful Round 5 locations today brings the total number of base stations being funded in Western Australia under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program to 303, underlining our ongoing commitment to providing new and improved mobile connectivity to Australians across the country.”

“Improved mobile connectivity makes it possible for Australians to stay connected, access education services, conduct business and remain in contact with family and friends. These activities are critical year-round, but particularly important with people responding to the COVID-19 crisis and spending more time at home,” said Minister Fletcher.

Minister Coulton said, “Our Mobile Black Spot program is connecting regional communities and businesses, enabling them to contribute more effectively to our local, regional and national economies.”

Minister MacTiernan said the Mobile Black Spot Program is an important initiative that is helping to improve business operations, public safety and social connection across the State.

“I welcome the co-funding of 63 base stations that will expand access to mobile broadband across the WA grainbelt, remote Aboriginal communities and accommodation sites.

“WA’s vast landscape demands practical telecommunications solutions that provide mobile connectivity for businesses, residents and visitors throughout the regions.”

Under Round 5, $29.7 million will be invested in mobile infrastructure in Western Australia. This includes $12.8 million funding from the Commonwealth and $5.5 million from the Western Australian Government.

Across the five rounds, the Mobile Black Spot Program has already generated a total investment of over $836 million Australia-wide, including co-contributions from the states and mobile network operators, which is funding the delivery of 1,229 new mobile base stations.

“This very significant investment is allowing much needed mobile services to be delivered in areas where they would otherwise not be commercially viable, with regional, rural and remote Australians being the real winners here,” said Minister Coulton.

The Federal Government is contributing a total of $34 million to Round 5 of the Program, which will deliver total new investment of more than $73 million together with co-contributions from the funding recipients and state governments.

This comes as the Mobile Black Spot Program passes a significant milestone with more than 800 mobile base stations now on air across Australia, meaning more coverage in more rural areas.

“More than 77 per cent of the 1047 base stations funded through the first four rounds of the Program are now complete taking us past the 800 mobile base station milestone. I thank Telstra, Optus and Vodafone for their work in getting us to this point, and importantly for their ongoing commitment to the Program,” Minister Fletcher said.

The Government has allocated funding for all Round 5 proposals that offer value for money to taxpayers and meet the guidelines for the round. Of the $80 million made available, $34 million has been successfully allocated.

The Government intends that the next step in the Mobile Black Spots program will be to conduct a Round 5A, which will be used to test a range of different program designs. Funding for round 5A will be drawn from the unused portion of the funding allocated to Round 5.

The existing program design has served Australia very well. However, with each successive round, the base stations being funded are less economic for the mobile network operators. This fact, and the results from Round 5, suggest that fewer sites are likely to be successfully funded if future rounds are held under the existing program design.

A discussion paper to consult on the different program designs which could be tested under the future Round 5A has been released today.

The paper proposes three main objectives for this round:

  • to improve mobile connectivity along major transport corridors;
  • to improve mobile connectivity in disaster-prone regions; and
  • to test new technologies that support shared mobile coverage in regional areas.

A decision on the timing of Round 5A will be taken once responses to the discussion paper have been received and considered.

Round 5 base stations are expected to roll out shortly with the first new base stations being activated by the end of the year.

The list of new Western Australian locations is below. For more information visit: www.communications.gov.au/mbsp

Media contacts:

Minister Fletcher:

Brad Hatch | 0448 162 679 | Brad.Hatch@communications.gov.au

Rebecca Papillo | 0439 892 771 | Rebecca.Papillo@communications.gov.au

Minister Coulton:

Steph Nicholls | 0417 314 920 | Steph.Nicholls@regional.gov.au

Minister MacTiernan:

Mark Scott | 0437 170 385 | mark.scott@dpc.wa.gov.au

Additional information

List of Round 5 Mobile Black Spot locations in Western Australia

Site Name

State

Carrier

Abrolhos Islands, East Wallabi Island

WA

Telstra

Abrolhos Islands, Pelsaert Group

WA

Telstra

Abrolhos Islands, Rat Island

WA

Telstra

Ashendon South

WA

Optus

Badgingarra East

WA

Optus

Bowelling

WA

Optus

Burekup East

WA

Optus

Burkett Road Rest Area (East)

WA

Telstra

Burkett Road Rest Area (West)

WA

Telstra

Cadoux

WA

Optus

Cape Arid National Park - Ranger Station

WA

Optus

Cheela Plains Station Stay

WA

Optus

Coalseam Camp Ground

WA

Telstra

Cunderdin North

WA

Optus

Dale River

WA

Optus

Djugerari Remote Community

WA

Telstra

Dongolocking North

WA

Optus

Drysdale River Station

WA

Telstra

East Newdegate

WA

Optus

Ellendale South

WA

Optus

Francois Peron National Park - Big Lagoon

WA

Optus

Ghooli

WA

Optus

Hamelin Pool

WA

Telstra

Hill River South

WA

Optus

Jingalup

WA

Telstra

Koomberkine North

WA

Optus

Kunawarritji

WA

Optus

Kutkabubba Community

WA

Telstra

Lake Towerrinning

WA

Optus

Lane Poole Reserve

WA

Telstra

Lesley East

WA

Optus

Lower Donnelly River Huts

WA

Telstra

Malcolm Siding

WA

Telstra

Meeking

WA

Optus

Miamoon

WA

Optus

Mollerin

WA

Optus

Mt Horner North

WA

Optus

Muludja Remote Community

WA

Telstra

Mumbida

WA

Optus

Nanson

WA

Telstra

Ngaanyatjarra Lands, Tjukurla

WA

Telstra

Ningaloo Station Campground

WA

Optus

North Kellerberrin

WA

Optus

Port Smith

WA

Telstra

Scaddan

WA

Telstra

Silent Grove Campground

WA

Optus

Steep Point

WA

Optus

Stokes National Park - Camping Area

WA

Optus

Stratherne

WA

Optus

Thevenard Island

WA

Telstra

Useless Loop Road

WA

Telstra

Useless Loop Road (Cararang)

WA

Telstra

Wamenusking

WA

Optus

Wananami Remote Community

WA

Telstra

Wangkatjunka Remote Community

WA

Telstra

Warnackes Quarantine Station

WA

Telstra

Warralong

WA

Optus

Windjana Gorge Campground

WA

Optus

Wuraming North

WA

Optus

Yakanarra

WA

Telstra

Yathroo

WA

Optus

Youndgein

WA

Optus

Yulga Jinna Remote Community

WA

Telstra

Quotes from industry

Nikos Katinakis, Telstra’s Group Executive of Networks and IT, said, “In challenging times it is important people can remain as connected to each other as possible, whether that is through remote schooling, working from home or just staying socially connected through video calling and social media. We are proud that we have delivered hundreds of mobile base stations and invested $280 million to deliver coverage to our most regional and remote customers.”

Andrew Sheridan, Optus’ Vice President of Regulatory and Public Affairs said, “Optus is a strong supporter of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, which is bringing coverage and competition to regional Australia, in many places for the first time. We congratulate the Government on reaching the huge milestone of 800 sites and look forward to working closely together in current and future rounds.”

A spokesperson for Vodafone said, “We’re pleased to be working as part of the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program to deliver new mobile sites for communities in regional and remote areas. To date, Vodafone has delivered approximately 36,700 square kilometres of new external coverage to our customers; extended 4G services to more than 16,000 additional homes; and added more than 1,450 kilometres of 4G connectivity along major transport routes across the country.”

Andrew Roberts, CEO of Field Solutions said: “Field Solutions has been delivering true broadband solutions for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia for the last four years. Now with the backing of the Federal Government mobile black spot program, we are proud to pioneer the delivery of our multi-use tower strategy ensuring the delivery of both true broadband and mobile phone coverage is achieved.”