Coalition makes $100m call on regional mobile blackspots
A COALITION government would spend $100 million fixing mobile phone black spots throughout regional and rural Australia.
In unveiling the policy on Tuesday Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the $100 million would help fund the construction of about 250 mobile phone towers around the country.
Mr Abbott also confirmed that, where possible, a Coalition government would work with mobile phone carriers to leverage off existing National Broadband Network wireless infrastructure to expand networks.
He said this was "a sensible solution that has not happened under Labor".
It was a view supported by telecommunications expert Dr Mark Gregory, who described it as a "practical, money-saving outcome".
Dr Gregory, a senior lecturer with RMIT's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been critical of Labor for failing to adopt the same approach.
"Under the NBN ... in regional Australia you've got this fixed wireless. Essentially, they're using the same system of Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, but they're using it for fixed connections to people's homes, not for mobile," Dr Gregory said.
"So the argument is why not utilise that facility ... for the NBN fixed connections but also allow Vodafone, Optus, Telstra to put their antennas on the same tower (which will be connected back into the network by fibre) and then you've got mobile coverage."
An Abbott government would provide $80 million for a mobile network expansion program designed to improve mobile phone coverage along major transport routes, in small communities and in locations prone to experiencing natural disasters.
The Coalition claims this program would generate an additional $80 million investment from the major mobile phone carriers.
A further $20 million would go towards a mobile black spot program to address unique mobile coverage problems - such as locations with high seasonal demand - and deliver a targeted response.
The Coalition would fund up to 50% of the cost of deploying mobile black-spot solutions, the statement read.