Telstra and the Australian government have announced the 135 regional and remote locations that will receive 4G mobile connectivity thanks to the small cells being deployed under the government's mobile blackspot program.
The new infrastructure will provide faster and more reliable mobile connectivity for those living within up to 300 metres of the small cells, Regional Communications Minister Fiona Nash said.
"The small cells will deliver improved mobile data coverage in a 200- to 300-metre radius around the site, helping residents and local business owners access the information and online services they need," Nash said on Saturday.
"Small cells are a great way of providing access to fast data services in regional and remote communities where it may not otherwise be economical to do so.
"These sites complement the new mobile base stations being rolled out under the Mobile Black Spot Programme by targeting small, localised blackspots where access to data services is a problem. In the future, these small cells will also be able to support voice services as the technology for 4G voice becomes available."
Mike Wright, Telstra group managing director for Networks, said the small cell sites were funded by Telstra itself, and are being installed in addition to the 429 base stations built or upgraded by the telco under the AU$94.8 million in funding received from the federal government as part of round one of the mobile blackspot program.
"When we made our bid under Round One, our core objective was to maximise new coverage to regional communities, which is why we made this additional pledge to further expand mobile data services at our own expense," Wright said.
"We worked closely with the federal government to identify the communities who were eligible for this small cell technology, and we are proud to be part of this important initiative which will connect so many more regional communities. We will also continue to work with the government to identify further opportunities to deploy this innovative technology to more rural areas."
While small cells -- which are miniature base stations -- only provide data services, Telstra said it is now working on rolling out voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology to enable voice calling.
In New South Wales, the locations getting small cells are Ballimore, Bellbrook, Bexhill, Bookham, Booral, Bostobrick, Brungle, Bukkulla, Bulga, Bunnan, Bunyah, Burrinjuck, Bylong, Chillingham, Deepwater, Euabalong, Euchareena, Gunderman, Gwabegar, Humula, Jiggi, Karuah, Kulnura, Liston, Lower Portland, Main Arm, Modanville, Mogriguy, Mt Taylor, Old Grevillia, Rappville, Rugby, Rye Park, Tabulam, Tallimba, Tyringham, Wantabadge, Watsons Creek, Wollar, Wollomombi, and Wyndham.
In the Northern Territory, the locations are Aileron Station, Aurora Kakadu Hotel/Roadhouse, Hay Creek Road-Stuart Highway, Jilkminggan Community-Roper Highway, Lake Bennett, Mcarthur-Carpenteria Highway, Renner Springs-Stuart Highway, and Tipperary Station Road.
In Queensland, locations getting coverage thanks to Telstra's small cells are Alva Beach, Avondale, Binna Burra Resort, Boreen Point, Bramston Beach, Cawarral, Cherbourg, Dingo SCAX, Hampton, Hillview, Injinoo, Injune, Innot Hot Springs, Lake Tinaroo, Mena Creek, Moranbah Airport, Morven, Mourilyan Harbour, Mungallala, Murray Upper, Palmer River Roadhouse, Peranga, Reesville, River Ranch, Seisia, Severnlea, Tarzali, Tingoora, Umagico, Woorabinda, and Wowan.
In South Australia, the locations are Balgowan, Bute, Caltowie, Cape Jaffa Anchorage, Coobowie, Farrell Flat, Geranium, Gumeracha, Kalangadoo, Kangarilla, Lipson, Mintaro, Monash, Myponga, Norton Summit, Pinery, Port MacDonnell, Port Neill, Sevenhill, Spalding, Stockport, Terowie, Truro, Wirrulla, Yeelanna, and Yundi.
In Tasmania, the locations getting small cells are Adventure Bay, Avoca Exchange, Beechford, Colebrook, Lilydale, Nile Exchange, Sprent, Swanwick, Weymouth, Yolla, Borung, Cavendish, Cheshunt, Dargo, Darraweit Guim, Dartmouth Dam, Gellibrand, Hill End, Maroona, Navarre, Smeaton, Tarrawingee, Tooborac, and Traralgon South.
In Western Australia, the locations are Calingiri, Coolup, Gingin West, Kirup, and Tammin.
The first round of mobile blackspot funding was opened in December 2014, with Telstra and Vodafone Australia securing AU$185 million in government funding to build or upgrade 499 mobile towers across Australia.
In total, Vodafone will build out 70 cell towers while Telstra builds out 429, with the full rollout to be completed within three years. Telstra was also commissioned to install the small cells in order to provide small towns with 4G services where Telstra infrastructure is already available.
The government then announced the second round of the program in early December, providing a further AU$60 million to those participating.
At the end of last month, the Coalition pledged to spend an additional AU$60 million to fund a third round of the mobile blackspot program to build or upgrade a further 900 mobile towers if re-elected during the July 2 federal election.
"The biggest complaint about telecommunications is 'my mobile phone wont work'. So we had our first round, when we committed AU$100 million and leveraged AU$380 million total expenditure for just under 500 new base stations, which addressed 3,000 out of 6,000 nominated blackspots," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in May.
"The second round, which Fiona [Nash] is residing over as the minister for regional telecommunications, is another AU$60 million previously announced. We expect that to address around 900 further blackspots.
"And this third round here we're announcing today, a third round of AU$60 million, which will bring the total commitment to AU$220 million, that is going to address another 900 blackspots."
Rival telecommunications provider Vodafone Australia last month also announced an investment of over AU$9 million separate to the mobile blackspot program to be spent on constructing 32 new mobile base stations across the country to improve telecommunications coverage in regional areas.
"Vodafone is committed to increasing coverage and choice for customers in regional Australia, and we've identified 32 sites which will build on our growth in areas outside the major metropolitan centres," Vodafone Australia CTO Benoit Hanssen said.
"Many customers living in regional and rural Australia don't have access to reliable coverage, choice of provider, or both, and we're determined to drive change."
Vodafone's extra base stations will be built in Coffs Harbour Park Beach, Coffs Harbour CBD, Coffs Harbour West, Toormina, Coffs Harbour Industrial, Coffs Harbour Jetty, Coffs Harbour North, Tamworth showgrounds, South Tamworth, West Tamworth, Taminda, Tamworth Golden Guitar, Berrigan, Yeoval, Cudal, Tallimba North, Rushes Creek, Bendemeer, and Kootingal in NSW; Bundaberg East, Bundaberg North, Svensson Heights, Bargara, Elliots Heads, Burnett Heads, and Drillham in Queensland; Carrabin and Burracoppin in WA; and Myrtle Bank, Scottsdale, Campania, and Ouse in Tasmania.
Most of the sites will be operational by the end of 2016, and all will be on-air by the end of 2017.