Thursday, 28 March 2019 13:20

Optus funded to build 49 new mobile sites in blackspot program Featured

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Optus says it has successfully secured funding to build 49 new mobile sites as part of Round 4 of the Federal Government's mobile black spot program.

Announcing the funding on Thursday, Optus said the new sites would deliver much needed mobile coverage and connectivity to regional communities.

The 49 sites are located across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and will cost $27.8 million to build, including $10.3 million in federal funding, $3.5 million in state funding and a co-contribution of $14 million from Optus.

Andrew Sheridan, Optus vice-president Regulatory and Public Affairs, said, “We are incredibly happy with the result of this round of Mobile Black Spot funding, which has seen Optus awarded a significant number of sites. In the three years that we have taken part in the Program we have delivered more than 70 sites benefiting more than 6,900 properties in regional and rural parts of Australia, enabling them to stay connected with their friends and family.

“The sites have carried over 4.5 million calls and over 658,000 individual users have taken advantage of this new coverage. This includes in locations in some of the most remote parts of Australia including William Creek in South Australia and Tjuntjuntjara in Western Australia.

“Our priority at Optus is always to deliver the best service, value and choice to our customers and the Mobile Black Spot Program has played an important role in helping to facilitate this in often very remote parts of the country.

“We acknowledge the important contribution of the Federal and State Governments in funding this additional network infrastructure and coverage.

Optus says the 49 sites it has secured by will improve coverage in regions including Fraser Island in Queensland, West and Eastern MacDonnell Ranges in the Territory, the mid north of South Australia, outback Western Australia and Central West New South Wales.

“These are all areas in need of improved mobile coverage. We worked closely with State and Territory Governments as well as some communities in selecting these sites. For us, this is about more than mobile coverage, it’s about giving Australians in rural areas the dedicated coverage that they need to stay connected with their family and friends and deliver for their business,” Sheridan said.

As part of the Program each of the new sites will be fitted with battery back-up capability of 12 hours helping to mitigate potential power outages at an additional government-funded cost.

“Mobile coverage is an essential service and it is vitally important that Australians in rural and remote locations do not miss out,” said Regional Communications Minister Bridget McKenzie.

“The announcement of successful Round 4 locations shows that Optus is partnering with the Government for 49 sites across the country.

“Our commitment of over $25 million to Round 4 together with the $14 million Optus contribution is enabling the delivery of much needed coverage to areas where it would otherwise not be commercially viable.”

Optus is currently rolling out 126 federal funded sites across Australia as part of the second round of the program and priority round program, with over 70 Optus co-funded Black Spot sites already live.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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