Telstra keen to continue with mobile black spot program beyond current allocation

Telstra has signalled its ambition to continue rolling out mobile black spot towers should the federal and state governments commit to further co-investment opportunities. 

Checking the service: Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn makes the most of the new signal at the unveiling of the 100th mobile black spot tower in Culla.

Checking the service: Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn makes the most of the new signal at the unveiling of the 100th mobile black spot tower in Culla.

The assurance comes after federal Regional Communications Minister Fiona Nash unveiled the 100th Telstra mobile black spot tower in Culla in the southern Grampians on Thursday. 

The project which which was first announced in January 2015 has been driven by co-investment between the federal and state governments as well as private telecommunications companies Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. 

All stakeholders benefit from the investment and it’s created the opportunity to put a tower where one otherwise wouldn't be put.

Andrew Penn - Telstra CEO

Telstra chief executive Andrew Penn said the co-investment model had proven itself to be successful and said Telstra was keen to continue. 

“It’s a great initiative because it shows that government and corporate partnership can really work,” Mr Penn said.  “All stakeholders benefit from the investment and it’s created the opportunity to put a tower where one otherwise wouldn't be put.

“If the government were interested in having other co-contribution programs which we would be very supportive of that we would be a part of those.” 

All up 765 towers will be built across rounds one and two of the project, with 577 of those receiving funding from Telstra. 

Telstra has set aside a further $100 million for other co-investment opportunities with government into the future. 

The federal electorate of Ballarat was a big winner from round one of the project, with seven towers due for installation and a further two just outside of the electorate in Lexton and Waubra also funded. 

However other areas throughout the electorate including Smeaton, Dean and Mount Helen are yet to receive funding despite being nominated by residents and Ballarat MP Catherine King.

While falling short of confirming future funding for further mobile black spot towers, Ms Nash said the federal government was aware of the remaining demand for improved service.  

She said the issue would be addressed by the recently-announced Regional Task Force, which will be headed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. 

“We're very aware there are some communities that want to see expanded coverage,” Senator Nash said.   “We've done a terrific job getting the towers...(but) we do recognise more can be done and that sort of thing will be addressed by the taskforce.”