Announcing the tender, regional development and lands minister, Brendon Grylls, said a State Telecommunications Needs Assessment and community consultations indicated a low level of mobile coverage and broadband Internet was available in regional Western Australia. "The tender proposals must outline how the telecommunications carriers will deliver mobile voice and broadband data communications to the greatest possible number of coverage locations."
He added: "The shortcomings of mobile telephone coverage on the State's major regional highways need to be improved not only for mobile telephone but also for radio communications coverage, which is essential for our police and emergency services, business and recreational purposes.
The RFP defines three priority target areas:
- Pilbara, Mid-West Gascoyne, Kimberley, Wheatbelt and Ngaanyatjarra Lands;
- Goldfields Esperance (region excluding the Ngaanyatjarra Lands communities that is part of Priority Target Area 1); and
- Peel, Great Southern and South West Regions.
According to the RFP "The overall objective of the RMCP is to invest in new telecommunications network infrastructure to expand terrestrial mobile, voice, and high-speed wireless data broadband to improve highway and town-to-town coverage in regional, rural and remote communities. The RMCP aims to provide regional and remote communities and businesses in Western Australia access to a self-sustainable, affordable mobile wireless broadband service along major transport corridors similar to that enjoyed in major cities and town centres."
The successful respondent(s) are required to complete the project and have services operational by 30 June 2014. The Government's preference is to award the contract to a single supplier.
Grylls said: "The RMCP was a key part of the 2010-11 State Budget with an allocation of $120.3m over three years to expand mobile telephone coverage on the State's major regional highways and to address black spots."
However funding has not yet been allocated for subsequent phases of the project. According to the RFP, the Department of Commerce will continue to seek additional funding of up to $35m for phase 2 and $45m for a phase 3 from Government. Should funding become available phases 2 and 3 are expected to commence four and six years after the commencement of phase 1.
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