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Monday, 23 October 2017
Page: 11453

Mobile Black Spot Program

Dear Mr Vasta

Thank you for your letter of 15 June 2017, to Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts, regarding a Petition before the Standing Committee on Petitions. This petition seeks funding under the next round of the Mobile Black Spot Program for the Heybridge, Preservation Bay and Sulphur Creek communities in Tasmania. As the matters raised fall with in my portfolio responsibilities, your letter has been forwarded to me for reply.

While mobile carriers claim to provide coverage to 99 per cent of Australia's population, there are still many parts of Australia where there is no coverage, particularly in regional and remote locations. Expanding mobile coverage has clear economic and social benefits for people living, working and travelling in regional and remote areas of Australia.

The Australian Government has committed $220 million through the Mobile Black Spot Program (the Program) to invest in telecommunications infrastructure to address mobile black spots along major regional transport routes and in small communities.

The Government's commitment to the Program includes $60 million to target specific priority locations. A full list of these priority locations is available on the Department of Communications and the Arts website at www.communications.gov.au/mobile coverage.

I am pleased to advise that Sulphur Creek has been announced as a priority location under this round of the Program.

Given the close proximity of Heybridge and Preservation Bay to Sulphur Creek, these locations may benefit from a future base station funded to provide services to Sulphur Creek. However, due to the topography of the area any improvements in coverage may be a mix of handheld and external antenna coverage.

Consultations have now commenced with the mobile carriers and the States on the implementation of the priority locations round of the program. There will be an approach to market in 2017 to deliver on these commitments, subject to suitable applications being submitted by the mobile carriers.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to Minister Fifield on this matter.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Regional Development, Ms Nash