Telstra has announced activating 60 mobile base stations as part of the Australian government's mobile blackspot program, with the telecommunications provider saying it will reach 100 blackspots by the end of the year.
The base stations have been upgraded or constructed in locations across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia that have suffered from a lack of mobile coverage in the past.
"Communities that previously had little to no mobile reception can now access Australia's leading mobile network, allowing them to connect with family, friends, and clients as well as watch video on the go and run their businesses more effectively over fast 4G mobile broadband," said Telstra Group managing director of Networks Mike Wright.
According to Wright, these 60 base stations have provided over 20,000 kilometres square of new or improved mobile coverage, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce adding that mobile connectivity is necessary for businesses to take advantage of the digital economy.
"As I travel rural and regional areas, locals tell me connectivity is one of their top issues, so this is an important step forward for the regions," Joyce said.
"Whether it's in the city or the country, mobile coverage is vital to people who are increasingly reliant on mobile devices to conduct business, manage farms, and keep in touch."
Telstra's 60 completed base stations provide coverage across: Araluen, Blue Mountains National Park South, Clunes, Colo Heights, Darbys Falls, Deniliquin, Drake, Hernani, Hillgrove, Kurrajong, Wentworth, Windellama, and Woolomin, NSW; Boonah Rathdowney Road between Boonah and Rathdowney, Burnett Highway between Rockhampton and Biloela, Clarke Creek, Currumbin Creek Road, Eukey, Eulo, Forsayth, Greenvale, Kin Kin, Marlborough, Mount Mee, Quilpie Diamantina Developmental Road, Toobeah, Widgee, and Woolooga, Queensland; Paruna, SA; Austins Hill, Benambra, Blackwood, Boolite, Carlisle River, Chinkapook, Digby, Dumbalk, Gormandale, Guildford, Harrow, Kadnook, Kalkee, Kewell, Lalbert, Marnoo B, Muntham, Patchewollock, Pigeon Ponds, Saint Andrews, Sandy Point, Sheep Hills, Strzelecki, Werrimull, Wombelano, and Youngvale, Victoria; and Ajana, Borden, Kununoppin, Naraling, and Popanyinning, WA.
In June, Telstra and the Australian government also 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.
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.
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, Telstra will build out 429 cell towers while Vodafone builds out 70, 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 last year, providing a further AU$60 million to those participating.
At the end of May, 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.
Rival telecommunications provider Vodafone Australia in May 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.