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Optus announces 22 new mobile towers across Queensland

Optus will be building a total of 22 new mobile sites across Queensland -- 18 with its own funding, and four under the federal government's mobile blackspots program -- for around AU$10 million.

Optus has announced that it will be spending AU$8.2 million on expanding its mobile network across regional Queensland, with 18 new mobile towers being built out.

The telecommunications provider has already finished constructing its new mobile towers in Augethella, Barcoola Homestead, Mitchell Escarpment, Lurnea, Morven, Crotchdantigh, Mia Bend, Teddington, Dirranbandi, St George North, Mount Walpanara, and Mungallala, and is due to build out sites in North Charleville, Charleville Central, Mangalore, Wyandra, Lonsome, and Bymount South by June.

It will also be investing an additional AU$1.8 million in combined Optus, federal government, and state government funds to build a further four towers under the mobile blackspots program.

Its mobile blackspot towers in Brucedale and Blue Lagoon have already been completed, while those in Mirrabooka and Nardoo are due to be constructed by June.

According to Optus, its mobile coverage will be expanded by more than 600km across several key Queensland highways -- Carnarvon, Castlereagh, Cunningham, and Warrego -- thanks to the 22 new towers.

"We're continually working to connect regional Australia, and these 22 new sites will result in significant network coverage expansion and improvement to our customers' experience," said Vin Mullins, Optus manager of Mobile Access Planning.

Optus last week also announced that it would be taking part in the Victorian government's AU$18 million Regional Rail Connectivity Project through which it is aiming to improve mobile coverage for railway commuters on the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon, and Seymour lines.

As part of the rail connectivity project, Optus, alongside Telstra and Vodafone Australia, will build out around 35 new mobile towers along the train lines, with completion due in 2018. The three telcos will also install reception repeaters on trains, enhancing the signal from mobile towers along the train lines.

According to Optus, the project demonstrates that telcos and governments can partner on bringing coverage to regional areas.

"Initiatives such as this, and national initiatives such as the mobile blackspot program, showcase how governments and telcos can work together to reduce mobile blackspots across Australia," Mullins said last week.

In December, the Australian government announced that Optus will be building 114 new mobile sites -- 49 small cells and 65 base stations -- in remote areas, and investing AU$36.4 million as part of round two of the mobile blackspot program.

It switched on its first blackspot site in William Creek, South Australia, last month. Instead of building a new mobile tower in the area, Optus instead deployed its small cell technology -- which utilises its satellite services and backhaul, providing mobile phone coverage to up to 3km surrounding the cell -- to provide mobile coverage.

Optus has been installing small cells across regional areas to boost mobile coverage, including in the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and South Australia, and has also been using the 1800MHz spectrum it secured for AU$196 million during the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) auction last year to expand its mobile networks.

For metro areas, Optus is rolling out its 1Gbps 4.5G network with Huawei across the capital cities throughout 2017, having activated its first site in Sydney in February.