Mobile black spot tender process begins
A tender process has begun for the latest round of the Mobile Black Spot Program.
This program is designed to improve mobile coverage for 106 priority locations around Australia.
The federal government has committed $60 million to priority black spot locations, on top of the $160 million already committed under the first two funding rounds of the program.
Telecommunications providers will bid to deliver coverage to priority locations by nominating the amount of Commonwealth funding sought, their own proposed co-contribution, funding from state and local governments and other sources. Bids will be assessed by the Department of Communications on a value-for-money basis.
Of the original list of 125 priority locations announced during the 2016 election campaign, 19 locations have already successfully been addressed under round 2 of the program and through carriers expanding their own networks. One of the priority locations on Flinders Island, Tasmania, will also receive improved mobile coverage through the Building Better Regions Fund.
More than 312 new or improved mobile base stations have already been delivered under the first two rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program, with a new base station now being switched on every working day, on average.
Telstra, Vodafone and Optus are on track to deliver all 765 base stations funded under the first two rounds by the end of 2018, and successful bidders for the additional 106 priority locations will also be expected to complete the rollout by the end of 2018.
The Commonwealth’s overall commitment of $220 million to the Mobile Black Spot Program has attracted a total funding pool worth more than $650 million, including co-contributions from state governments, mobile network operators and third-party organisations.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently released the final report from its mobile roaming inquiry, providing regulatory certainty for potential applicants to compete in the priority locations round.
Outcomes of the tender process are expected to be announced in coming months. The guidelines for the priority locations round are available at: www.communications.gov.au/mbsp.
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