The federal government has started fielding interest from telcos for the $60 million next tranche of its mobile blackspots program.
This is the third tranche of funding announced under the program, and brings the government’s total co-investment in mobile infrastructure expansion to $220 million.
The origin of the third tranche goes back to late 2014 when MPs in non-urban areas were invited to submit “priority locations” they believed were most in need of better mobile services.
From that exercise, the government compiled a list of 125 priority locations.
However, it has now been slimmed to 106 locations, because 19 are considered to have been serviced under rounds one and two of the blackspots program.
The government today said it expected to announce the successful telco bidders to build round three infrastructure over the coming months. It did not give an exact timeframe.
Telstra, Vodafone and Optus are building 765 base stations funded under the first two rounds of the scheme.
Together with the additional 106 priority locations, all are expected to be operational “by the end of 2018.”
It is not clear whether the mobile blackspots scheme will be extended beyond the three planned rounds of funding.