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Victoria dominates mobile blackspots list

The federal government has released details of the 6,000 mobile blackspots across Australia as identified by the public.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Victoria has reported more mobile coverage issues than any other state in Australia, according to the database released by the federal government on Tuesday.

The database was compiled ahead of a tender process with mobile telcos to bid for up to AU$100 million in federal government funding for new mobile towers.

Since opening up for requests from the public, the government said last month that it had received 10,000 requests for 6,000 locations across the country. According to the database, Victoria has overwhelmingly been identified by the public as containing a high number of blackspots, with outer metropolitan areas in the other major capital cities making up the bulk of identified blackspot issues.

The government is hoping that councils and state governments will pitch in on some of the costs for addressing blackspots, but the federal funding should cover between 250 and 300 towers, each of which would address between one and 16 different blackspots, the government has indicated.

The federal government had scoped a number of funding models, including a winner-takes-all approach for winning telco bidders, or one where construction companies build the towers for the carriers to then use. Instead, however, the government has decided to adopt a "merit-based" approach that will see the telcos access the database and decide on which locations suit them best for the funding, and then bid on those locations, provided at least one other carrier is willing to collocate on the site.

"The government's AU$100 million will be allocated through a competitive selection process, under which Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone, as well as specialist mobile infrastructure providers, will nominate locations — drawn from the 6,000 on the database — where they would build a new or enhanced mobile base station," Parliamentary Secretary for Communications Paul Fletcher said in a statement.

"The process is expected to leverage at least an additional AU$100 million in investment from bidding parties, state governments, and local councils."

Fletcher said that 80 percent of the locations identified already have at least 30 percent of the area already covered by existing mobile towers.

The tender process is expected to commence this month, with contracts awarded in April next year, and base station construction expected to begin in the second half of 2015.

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