We’re living in an era where connectivity is a ubiquitous part of modern life. The convenience, speed, and efficiency afforded by mobile devices make them essential tools for many of us. We use them for shopping, online banking, planning, taking photos, finding places, listening to music, tracking fitness, booking transport, and social networking, among many other things.
Australia has one of the world's least dense national populations but it also has one of the most spatially concentrated. Around 84 percent of the population lives within 50 kilometres of the coast, with declines in population density for inland areas and less than three people per square kilometre for the whole continent. The large distance and relatively small population of regional and rural areas have presented challenges and obstacles with communications in the past, but this is changing.
The Australian Government’s aim is that, by 2020, we will be among the world’s leading digital economies. It believes that greater digital engagement can boost productivity, bridge distances for regional and rural Australians and improve educational and health outcomes. The Mobile Black Spot Program is a Federal Government that initiative aims to improve both coverage of high quality terrestrial mobile voice and wireless broadband services in regional Australia through investing in telecommunications network infrastructure.
Late last year, the Australian Government announced that Round 2 of the program will deliver 266 new or upgraded mobile base stations across the country.
These mobile base stations will collectively provide:
- New and upgraded handheld coverage to over 17,700 square kilometres of regional and remote Australia.
- New external antenna coverage to over 52,300 square kilometres.
- New mobile coverage to over 1,900 kilometres of major transport routes.
Under Round 2 of the Program, Optus successfully secured $26.4 million in Federal and State Government funding to build 114 new mobile sites, with Optus co-contributing a further $36.4 million to provide dedicated connectivity to thousands of Australians. Optus’ bid includes funding for 65 mobile base stations as well as the deployment of 49 satellite small cells.
Optus is committed to providing mobile coverage to regional Australia. We believe that real investment in regional and remote telecommunications services is the only sustainable way to improve competition, strength and breadth of coverage in regional Australia. That is why Optus has also recently announced its intention to spend $1 billion to improve and expand its mobile network in regional Australia by the end of June 2018. This builds on our ongoing investment program which has directed more than $3.6 billion into our mobile networks since 2015.
Here are some of the exciting things we’re doing:
- Building 500 new mobile sites across regional and remote parts of Australia, including 114 sites under the Mobile Black Spot Program.
- Completing the 4G upgrade program which will upgrade more than 1,800 sites from 3G to 4G technology.
- Adding 4G capacity to more than 200 sites, delivering improved customer experience during periods of high usage.
- Continuing to roll out our innovative satellite small cell technology, which provides mobile voice and data services to remote areas of Australia.
- Meeting the cost of spectrum licences in regional areas.
This infographic provides some facts and stats on how we’re helping regional areas connect.
Not only will this investment connect thousands of Australians in remote areas, it also will play a significant part in supporting 5G – the next-generation mobile network, which is due around 2020.
This article was originally published on our Optus Business Insights Blog