Telstra expands Western Australian NextG coverage

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Telstra expands Western Australian NextG coverage

Government money to boot.

Telstra has received $39.2 million from the Western Australian Government to expand mobile coverage in regional and remote parts of the state over the next three years.

The carrier will build 113 new mobile sites along more than 8300 kilometres of highways in the state to eliminate blackspots and improve emergency services communications.

The funding is being provided under the state's Regional Mobile Communications Project. Telstra will receive about $7.1 million in the first year - $889,000 in each of the eight regions to benefit from the project.

However, the State Government has the capacity to tip up to $80 million more into the expansion of the mobile network through its Royalties for Regions fund.

Those planning to use the expanded network will have to subscribe to Telstra services.

Spokesmen for Telstra and the state's science and innovation minister John Day confirmed the telco would retain ownership of the infrastructure under a ten-year contract, with a five-year extension option.

"The 113 sites will form part of Telstra's WA mobile network and be subject to its normal arrangements for carrier roaming and facilities access," a spokesman for Day told iTnews.

The Western Australian Government will have first right of refusal to acquire the infrastructure once the contract ends, "subject to transfer of land access arrangements".

Optus or Vodafone will be given the option of installing equipment for their respective networks at the new sites from Telstra under standard conditions.

"The establishment of new towers and backhaul links provides other mobile carriers with the option to co-locate transmission equipment at these sites subject to Telstra's normal facilities access terms," the spokesman said.

The government hopes to provide "a self-sustainable and affordable mobile voice and wireless broadband service" through the contract but Telstra is contractually obliged only to offer the same products and prices as it does on its existing Next G network.

"Public safety in the regions will be boosted with enhanced emergency radio and mobile telecommunication coverage, which is a great outcome for regional WA," state Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls said in a statement.

"Firefighters and emergency medical services can use wireless broadband to download vital information while out in the field and be able to remotely access and transmit information in real time."

Telstra's appointment to build the network comes after a nine-month tender.

Motorola was awarded the first of the two contracts, to construct a shared network for WA Police, the Department of Corrective Services and Fire and Emergency Services Authority.

The five-year construction phase, worth $40 million, involves provision of two-way radios, upgrading the existing Police Metropolitan radio network central core as well as extending the digital encrypted system technology across over 200 of the state's radio sites.

The State Government hopes to replace "the existing obsolete network to underpin regional policing with 'fit for purpose' reliable radio communications".

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