Home Mobility Optus gets $555k of ‘left over’ black spot funds to boost SA mobile coverage

Optus gets $555k of ‘left over’ black spot funds to boost SA mobile coverage

The South Australian Government has allocated $555,015 to Optus to build and operate four new mobile phone base stations in the State after $2 million it committed towards the federal government’s mobile black spots programme was not fully utilised.

The SA Government says the new base stations will boost mobile phone coverage in black spots in the mid north, south east and Riverland regions of the state.

And, it says it has awarded the funds to Optus to build and operate the four base stations with high safety risk ratings including Wasleys, an area where black spots impacted on safety during the 2015 Pinery bushfire, Sevenhill in the Clare Valley, Yahl near Mount Gambier and Blanchetown in the Riverland.

According to the government, the base stations will ensure around 2100 residents, schools and businesses within a 10-km radius of the towers will have increased 4G coverage, with better call experiences and faster, more reliable mobile internet use.

The four sites have been chosen based on a range of factors including safety concerns, particularly with respect to high bushfire risk areas.

In round two of the black spot programme, the federal government announced Telstra and Optus would construct 20 base stations in South Australia using a $1.3 million co-contribution from the state government.

And, in December, federal Liberal MP Tony Pasin told ABC Radio that “round three doesn’t require a contribution from the state government. This means the state government will not contribute funding to round three, which is why funding for these towers has now been announced outside of the program”.

South Australia’s Science and Information Economy Minister, Kyam Maher, said on Tuesday that the state government was co-funding the four new mobile phone base stations “after the federal government chose to hand back one third of the money we committed to address priority black spots”.

“These four sites, in addition to the 20 sites currently under construction under round two of the mobile black spot programme, mean more than 6000 people will have much better mobile phone and Internet coverage in regional South Australia.

“In addition, tourists, visitors, local businesses to these areas will benefit from new and improved mobile coverage.”


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year 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).