Better coverage, more choice for regional mobile customers

Vodafone secures federal funding for 70 base stations

Vodafone has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that Vodafone has won funding for 70 base stations in regional areas of New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria under the Mobile Black Spot Programme.

Director of Strategy and Corporate Affairs Dan Lloyd said the programme was a big win for customers in regional Australia who will now have access to improved mobile coverage and choice of mobile provider.

“We’ve invested $3 billion in our new mobile network in the last three years. This federal funding will allow us to extend our network into more parts of Australia, offering a high-quality and reliable service to customers in regional areas which currently do not have coverage or choice,” Mr Lloyd said.

“Mobile customers in regional Australia have been disadvantaged for far too long with inadequate coverage and a lack of effective competition. The Federal Government’s announcement is a great step forward towards giving customers in regional areas better coverage and, often for the first time, the opportunity to have a choice of mobile provider.

“We are looking forward to being a part of these communities. We will be moving forward to bring these sites into operation as soon as possible, so that we can offer more customers in regional Australia the same great service and value we provide on our network today.”

The Federal Government’s announcement follows the recent release of a report by The Centre for Independent Economics which revealed Telstra customers in regional Australia are paying a premium of up to $650 per year due to lack of competition.

“We congratulate the Federal Government on the Mobile Black Spot Programme as it’s the first step toward a more competitive mobile market in regional areas,” Mr Lloyd said.

“There is a unique situation in Australia where previous government funding arrangements have discouraged competition and protected the incumbent. It means customers in many areas of regional Australia simply have no alternative to paying high prices for services because there was only one provider.

“We’re pleased the Federal Government has recognised that successful government programmes should deliver both coverage and choice for regional consumers.

“There is a lot of work still to be done to increase competition in the regional telecommunications market but we recognise the Federal Government’s efforts, through initiatives such as this programme, to start to level the playing field.

“We welcome the Federal Government’s announcement of an additional $60 million for a second round of the programme. We would be keen to work with government to look at ways to continue and improve what we believe is an effective model to bring coverage and choice to regional areas.”

Mr Lloyd said there was enormous potential in the Commonwealth’s funding conditions which require the winning bidder of a site to explore opportunities to co-fund base stations and share transmission with other mobile network operators.

“One of the barriers to competition has been insufficient incentives to share the full costs of mobile facilities in regional areas where it’s simply not economically viable to duplicate infrastructure,” Mr Lloyd said.

“It’s really important that industry maximises this opportunity to co-invest in these sites because when customers have choice, they pay fairer prices. We will be inviting other mobile network operators to co-invest in and share our sites and transmission, and we also look forward to discussions with other operators about opportunities in relation to their sites.”

Notes to editors:

The following are the state breakdowns of sites Vodafone has been successful in securing funding for under the Mobile Black Spots Programme.

New South Wales: Attunga, Barraba, Billimaria, Bruxner Highway (two sites), Cargo, Castlereagh Highway at Ben Bullen, Culmaran Creek, Cultowa, Cumnock, Duri, Elsmore, Eugowra, Fossickers Way, Gooloogong, Hallsville, Invergowrie, Jemalong, Koorawatha, Manildra, Manilla, Manna Mountain, Mid Western Highway (two sites), Molong, Moonbi, Mount Carrington, Newell Highway (Pilliga rest area), Noonbinna, Oakdene, Oxley Vale, Piallamore, Piora, Riverina Highway, Savernake, Spring Mountain Road, Tabbita, Tamworth, Ungarie, Walcha, Weethalle, Westdale and Woodstock. (Total – 43)

Tasmania: Apslawn, Bicheno, Bothwell, Brandum, Buckland, Goshen, Hamilton, Highland Lakes Road between Steppes and Bothwell, Lyell Highway, Miena, Okehampton Beach, Pyengana, Swansea, Takone, Tarraleah, Tasman Highway at Little Swanport and  Verona Sands. (Total – 17)

Queensland: Barkly Highway between Mount Isa and Camooweal, Barkly Highway between Mount Isa and Cloncurry, Boyneside, Capricorn Highway, Cooyar, Dingo and Kumbia.
(Total – 7)

Western Australia: Great Eastern Highway between Bodallin and Moorine Rock, and Ocean Beach. (Total – 2)

Victoria: Glen Valley (Total – 1)