Councils to advocate for mobile black spot towns in next round of funding

Councils surrounding Ballarat will advocate for improved mobile reception in black spot towns under round four of the Mobile Black Spot Program. 

The federal government announced $25 million for a new round of the program to address more black spots in regional and remote areas on Sunday. 

 Construction of a mobile tower in Glenlyon in 2017. Picture: Dylan Burns

Construction of a mobile tower in Glenlyon in 2017. Picture: Dylan Burns

Regional Communications Minister Bridget McKenzie said mobile network operators will be able to apply for round four funding in coming months. 

The competitive tender process will consider input from state, territory and local governments, as well as businesses, community organisations and emergency services. 

Moorabool Shire Council will advocate for funding for improved mobile coverage at Greendale, Dales Creek and Morrisons. 

Moorabool Shire Council chief executive Rob Croxford said investment in these towers would improve patchy or non-existent coverage. 

“This will aide safety, bushfire alerts and information and tourism,” he said. 

Pyrenees Shire Council will advocate for funding for three black spots areas in Natte Yallock, Mena Park and the area near Yalla-Y-Poora. 

Chief executive Jim Nolan said the shire had a history of advocating for black spots under the Mobile Black Spot Program. 

Telstra was funded to deliver base stations for Moonambel and Landsborough under round one of the program, aided by council financial contribution.

Optus is expected to deliver base stations at Lexton, Waubra and Ampitheatre by July as part of round two. 

Improved coverage will aide safety, bushfire alerts and information and tourism.

Rob Croxford, Moorabool Shire Council chief executive

Hepburn Shire Council will campaign for improved mobile coverage at Porcupine Ridge, Campbelltown and Mt Franklin. 

Interim chief executive Bruce Lucas said community members at Denver, Eganstown, Glenlyon, Leonards Hill and Lyonville had already benefited from the installation of mobile towers in previous rounds of the program. 

Golden Plains Shire Council has identified Cape Clear, Woodbourne and Geringhap/ Batesford as priority locations for improved mobile coverage. 

Mayor Helena Kirby said access to reliable telecommunications was crucial for economic growth and investment, and to ensure community connectivity and safety.

Telstra mobile towers in Dereel and Steiglitz were funded by the Mobile Black Spot Program. 

New Optus towers are scheduled to be built in Teesdale, Cape Clear and Haddon North by the end of 2018 with state government support. 

The state government pulled funding from the federal government Mobile Black Spot Program in January. In a statement at the time, Innovation and Digital Economy Minister Phillip Dalidakis said “Malcolm Turnbull continues to choose sites that are in his political interests, not the interests of regional Victoria”. 

The rollout of the first three rounds of the federal government Mobile Black Spot Program is on track to deliver 867 mobile base stations nationwide by June 2019. 

More information on how locations will be selected for funding under round four will be made available later this year.

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