TPG Telecom, Optus and Telstra will share $28.2 million in federal government grants for 66 projects aimed at addressing mobile phone blackspots in outer-urban fringe areas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher announced the mobile projects on Thursday, with funding provided through the digital economy strategy in last year’s budget.
According to a breakdown of the projects provided by Fletcher’s office, TPG is funded to deliver 28 projects, while Optus and Telstra are funded for 22 and 16, respectively.
The majority of the projects will take place in Victoria (27), followed by Queensland (13), Western Australia (12), New South Wales (10), South Australia (3) and Tasmania (1).
A leaked backgrounder also shows the 66 projects – which span 50 sites (16 are co-locations) – are valued at between $624,000 and $1.45 million each, and will be complete by the end of June 2024.
Fletcher said the 66 mobile projects would improve mobile coverage on the urban fringe across Australia.
“Improving coverage on the urban fringe will help communities access vital information during emergencies, seek help if needed and stay in touch with loved ones,” he said.
The government is now planning to invest a further $78.4 million in projects that address mobile phone and connectivity issues under the ‘connecting regional Australia initiative’.
The initiative, which builds on the mobile blackspot and regional connectivity programs, received $811.8 million in last month’s budget to improve connectivity in regional, rural and "peri-urban" areas.
It is a key part of the government’s response to the recent regional telecommunications review alongside a $480 million investment to improve NBN Co’s fixed wireless network.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications last month revealed there would be a $40 million underspend on mobile blackspots this financial year.
It put the underspend down to a number of factors, including Covid-19 restrictions and multiple flooding events.