Posted: January 8, 2014

Residents living in regional and rural Australia can now help the Australian government identify mobile black-spots and areas needing better coverage. During the recent election, a $100 million program was announced to expand existing coverage, however it is unknown what locations will be targeted, or which mobile companies will get the contracts. It has however promised $80 million over four years to improve existing coverage along major transport routes and a further $20 million towards boosting coverage in holiday location with unique coverage problems.

It has been found to be commercially feasible to upgrade coverage within popular holiday towns around Australia, with Telstra recently announcing an expansion to their high speed 4G networks to tourist hot-spots. As you may or may not know, this allows users to download at speeds up to 50Mbps.

At the moment, a large proportion of Australia’s land mass is still without mobile coverage. People living and working in these areas have no option but to use satellite phones. There are thousands of Australian’s on a subsidy satellite phone program, costing the government 2.6 million a year. There are plans to keep the program until ample mobile coverage is available.

There are talks about which would be the best way to co-fund this proposed mobile network expansion. Three potential funding methods have been outlined in a discussion paper released before charismas. A ‘winner takes all’ scenario which would see the full amount go to one single network operator to subsidies its own network expansion; or allowing a single or group of operators to bid for building and operation the base stations. The last funding method involves offering the money to single company build their own physical network and lease the space to other mobile operators (or they can operate a similar wholesale network).

Regardless, the new network would allow people to receive ADSL 2 internet speeds wirelessly in areas where there was no mobile coverage at all.

The future of Australian internet is proving to be very promising. With the NBN in the process of being rolled out, more and more Australians in regional areas will have access to high speed, unlimited broadband, be it through fibre optics or 4G.


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