The government yesterday laid down AU$8 million for the next year to fill mobile phone black spots on sections of highway as well as selected towns in WA and NT.
The money will boost coverage to locations recommended by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, which started a review on the state of regional and rural telecommunications last year. The Committee took public submissions and held 20 meetings in communities across the country to pin down problem areas.
Priority towns whose mobile connection will receive a boost are: Warburton, Looma and Yungngora in Western Australia as well as Alpurrurulam, Kintore, Ampilatwatja, Docker River, Umbakumba, Palumpa and Minjilang in the Northern Territory.
"The Rudd Government has a preference for coverage being provided to population centres where there are also community services such as schools, police, health and council services," Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a statement.
The new highway coverage is more evenly spread across the nation. Western Australia's Brand, North West Coastal and Great Northern Highways will have fewer no-signal areas, as will Queensland's Landsborough Highway, South Australia's Stuart Highway and Victoria's Monaro Highway, which crosses into NSW.
The government wants the new coverage to be available by this time next year. Once the infrastructure is in place, carriers are obligated to continue the service for at least 10 years.
Carriers will have to tender their submissions by 31 July.
The funding forms part of the previous government's 2008/2009 Connect Australia program.