Mobile Blackspot Program Information

Mobile Black Spot Program Tower Details

The Australian Government is improving mobile phone coverage and competition in regional and remote Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Programme (MBSP). As of 18/3/19 there have been 4 rounds of Federal Government MBSP funding. You can read more about the types of base stations that are used in the MBSP program, including small cells here.

How MBSP were funded (all 4 rounds)?

  • Over $220 million has been committed by the Federal Government through the Mobile Black Spot Program to improve mobile coverage across Australia.
  • 1047 locations around Australia will receive improved coverage under the four funding rounds of the Program (Round 1: 499, Round 2: 266, Round 3: 102, Round 4: 180).
  • Thanks to working cooperatively with state and local governments as well as the three major carriers (Telstra, Optus & Vodafone) and community and private sector groups locally, the total amount to be invested under the program is $760 million.
  • As of 15 March 2019, 682 sites have been switched on.
  • Base stations under the first three rounds are expected to be operational by 30 June 2019. Round 4 base stations are expected to roll out shortly, with the first new base stations being activated by the second half of the year.
  • Rollout sequence is being determined by the carriers, based on various factors, such as obtaining local government planning approval and landowner agreement where necessary, and/or the ability to access existing infrastructure, power and backhaul.

Every $1 of Commonwealth money has leveraged nearly $3 of contributions from other sources. The program will boost competition in mobile communications.

More information is available at: www.communications.gov.au/mbsp

Round 1

The first round 1 base stations commenced rolling out in December 2015. The full rollout of all 499 mobile base stations funded under Round 1 is expected to occur over three years. It is estimated that base stations funded through Round 1 of the Programme will deliver handheld or external antenna coverage to all or part of approximately 3,000 of the 6,221 locations on the database. This is because many of these base stations will serve multiple nominated black spot locations. Those black spot locations which have not received coverage under Round 1 will continue to form part of the database, and this database will again be used in the process of determining locations to receive funding under Round 2 of the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

The rules of the program were designed to give the mobile network operators incentives to secure co-contributions from state governments and other sources, with more points going to base stations supported by a co-contribution. The rules also gave each state government an incentive to put in money – because that in turn would maximise the share of the Commonwealth money going to base stations in that state. The result was significant funding from NSW ($24 million), Victoria ($21 million), Queensland ($10 million) and Western Australia ($32 million).

The points scheme also encouraged community contributions – with some remarkable outcomes. Jemalong Irrigation Ltd, which operates west of Forbes, NSW, put in a total of $220,000 and will secure two new base stations as a result. Similarly, in the Boyne Valley region of Queensland, Calliope & District Enterprises Ltd offered a co-contribution of $50,000 while the Calliope Rodeo Association contributed $80,000, which led to a successful proposal for a base station in Ubobo.

Current Mobile Blackspots that have been funded under Round 1
FundedBlackSpots

A PDF of the actual mobile blackspots in round 1 is here

A map of locations which will receive new or upgraded coverage under Round 1 of the Programme can also be viewed on the National Map or downloaded as an Excel file. In addition, as part of Telstra’s proposal, it will deploy up to 200 4G small cell sites in towns around Australia where suitable infrastructure is available, with the locations to be mutually agreed between Telstra and the Government. More details hereDetails of the Round 1 Funded Black Spots

Telstra also rolled out further small cell locations to complement the mobile black spot program. The small cell sites were funded by Telstra itself, and are being installed in addition to the 429 base stations built or upgraded by the telco under the AU$94.8 million in funding received from the federal government as part of round one of the mobile blackspot program. More details here

Round 2

Round 2 will see a total of $213 million (GST incl.) being invested in new mobile base station infrastructure. The Australian Government funding for Round 2 has been supplemented by Telstra ($63.7 million) Optus ($36.4 million) and Vodafone ($1.6 million). In addition, six state governments have co-contributed towards Round 2: New South Wales ($8.3 million), Queensland ($13.7 million), South Australia ($1.5 million), Tasmania ($0.35 million), Victoria ($7.9 million) and Western Australia ($21.8 million). An additional $475,000 has been provided by local governments, businesses and community organisations.

The first round 2 base stations are expected to commence rolling out in 2017.

Current Mobile Blackspots that have been funded under Round 2
(yellow square is a small cell and red square is a macrocell)

A PDF of the actual mobile blackspots in round 2 is here

Round 3

The Australian Government has committed an additional $60 million to a third round of funding. As part of this commitment, the Australian Government has announced a number of priority locations which may receive funding for a mobile base station under round 3.

Mobile coverage issues for 19 of the priority locations are already being addressed through previous rounds of the program, an alternative Government program, or through the mobile carriers own commercial investments.

A further $82.8 million in new investment will address the remaining 106 priority locations. The outcomes include:

  • $45.6 million in Commonwealth funding for 102 mobile base stations (12 Optus, 89 Telstra and one Vodafone), which includes the deployment of Telstra 4G small cells to address specific coverage issues at selected black spot locations.
  • All macrocell base stations will be provisioned with a minimum of 12 hours of back-up power
  • Optus and Telstra have recognised the coverage issues identified at four priority locations and advised that they will address these issues commercially.
  • Funding for the Priority Locations round has been supplemented by Telstra ($34.6 million), Optus ($2.3 million) and Vodafone ($0.3 million).

Round 3 is different to Rounds 1 and 2 as the government nominates which locations it feels should receive funding for a mobile blackspot and it will be up to the Telcos to bid for those locations.

The Australian Government has allocated $60 million (GST exclusive) to the Mobile Black Spot Program to target 125 specific priority locations. The outcome for each priority location is listed in this PDF:

Database of reported mobile black spot locations

Under Round 1 of the Programme, a database of 6,221 locations around Australia was developed, being locations nominated by Australians as 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 where they would build new or upgraded base stations.

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Round 4

On 10 June 2018, the Federal Government announced it had allocated $25 million of Mobile Black Spot Program funding towards a fourth round, to deliver improved mobile coverage to more regional and remote communities across Australia. Round 4 funding specifically targeted coverage issues at public interest premises, such as tourist sites and emergency services facilities and locations were announced during the week of 18/3/19.

  • Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program is delivering 180 new mobile base stations (49 Optus and 131 Telstra).
  • These base stations will address coverage issues in regional and remote areas including 73 base stations that specifically target coverage issues at Public Interest Premises, such as tourist centres and emergency services facilities.
  • Overall Round 4 will deliver a total investment of more than $83 million (GST inclusive) in new mobile infrastructure including funding from the Commonwealth, mobile carries and State Governments (Queensland, South Australia, Victorian and Western Australia).
  • The Round 4 rollout is expected to commence shortly with the first new base stations set to be activated by the second half of the year.
  • The Liberal and National Government is working with mobile network operators to encourage them to continue to invest in regional areas.

The list of successful Round 4 Locations can be viewed here:

The BIRRR Map of Round 4 Locations is featured below:

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Rounds 5 and 6

On 20 March 2019, the Minister for Regional Services, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, announced that an additional $160 million had been allocated for Rounds 5 and 6 of the Program. Round 5 of the Program allocates $80 million in funding and the Government expects to soon release Program Guidelines for the round.

 

Prepared by Julie Stott & Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR, Source:  Australian Financial Review Source: Department of Communications and Arts

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your own connection issues and best plans available.

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