Next round of Mobile Black Spot Program now open

The Australian Government is continuing to expand and improve mobile coverage across regional and remote Australia, with Round 5A of the Mobile Black Spot Program now open for applications.

Speaking at a Regional Australia Institute webinar on 18 November, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, the Hon Mark Coulton MP, highlighted the critical role that digital connectivity plays in economic development in regional areas, and announced the release of the guidelines for Round 5A.

“We’re continuing the Government’s $380 million Mobile Black Spot Program to deliver better mobile coverage to regional and remote Australia, and we are focussing on areas where this coverage is needed most,” Minister Coulton said.

“In Round 5A, we want to support new ways of delivering mobile services to locations that have traditionally been less economic for mobile network operators, as well as giving consumers a greater choice of providers to increase competition.”

“This round will also have a specific focus on improving mobile coverage along major transport corridors and in disaster-prone regions.”

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said that the Government is continuing to work with industry and state and local governments to improve connectivity across Australia, particularly in disaster-prone areas.

“Improving mobile coverage in natural disaster-prone areas is critical for keeping people connected during times of emergency, whether it’s to loved ones, or emergency services,” Minister Fletcher said.

“Round 5A will bring further improvements in mobile coverage – building on the progress made since this program began in 2013.”

More than 1,200 new mobile base stations have been funded under the first five rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, and over 880 of these base stations are now on air, providing improved mobile coverage across Australia.

Today’s announcement of Round 5A delivers on the Government’s commitment in April this year to conduct an interim round to test a range of new design options for the Mobile Black Spot Program.  The Commonwealth contribution of up to $34.5 million for this round will be drawn from unused funding from Round 5.

Outcomes from Round 5A will help to inform the design of Round 6 of the program, funding for which was committed in the 2019-20 Budget.

Mobile network operators and infrastructure providers are encouraged to register their interest in Round 5A by 5pm (AEDT), Tuesday 16 December 2020. For more information, visit: www.communications.gov.au/MBSP

Media contact:

Minister Fletcher: Imre Salusinszky 0432 535 737

Minister Coulton: Steph Nicholls 0417 314 920