Mobile Network Hardening Program

telecommunications tower

The Mobile Network Hardening Program is an Australian Government initiative funding upgrades to improve the resilience of Australia's mobile network telecommunications infrastructure in regional Australia to:

  • prevent outages during a natural disaster;
  • strengthen the resilience of telecommunications facilities to allow them to operate for longer during natural disasters; and
  • support the rapid restoration of services following an outage.

Outcomes of Round 1 of the Program were announced in February 2022.

The Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia, announced in the 2022–23 Budget, provides funding for two further rounds of the Program. This new funding is part of the Government's ongoing commitment to increase telecommunications resilience in rural, regional and remote Australia.

Round 2

Under Round 2 of the Mobile Network Hardening Program, the Australian Government is providing $14.2 million (GST exclusive) in grant funding for 386 projects to strengthen the resilience of regional telecommunications infrastructure, across regional Australia.

Grant funding is being provided to:

  • CiFi to improve back-up power capacity and strengthen network resilience on Christmas Island and Norfolk Island
  • Optus to install new generators and improve transmission resilience in clusters of connected base stations to reduce single points of failure
  • Telstra to uplift battery back-up power reserves at sites in remote Australia, providing continuity of service during outages and other emergencies, and
  • Indara for 2 Disaster Recovery Skids for deployment across regional NSW, Victoria and Tasmania to restore mobile services during and after a natural disaster.

See the full list of projects being funded—Mobile Network Hardening Program—Round 2 funded sites.

Yarramalong generator upgrade

As announced during the 2022 Federal Election, the Australian Government has committed up to $140,000 in funding to improve mobile network resilience in the community of Yarramalong, NSW.

The funding will contribute towards the cost of deploying a permanent, on-site generator at the Telstra mobile base station in Yarramalong. This will improve the resilience of Telstra mobile services for the community of Yarramalong in the event of power outages (including during or after natural disasters), supporting public safety communications and access to essential digital services.

In order to meet Commonwealth grant requirements and ensure a value for money outcome, Telstra has been invited to submit a proposal to deliver the upgrade to its Yarramalong base station. On 1 November 2023, targeted ad-hoc Grant Opportunity Guidelines were released to Telstra. This process was unsuccessful in funding a solution that could deliver the intended outcomes due to unforeseen complexities with the mobile network at the Yarramalong base station. The department has reviewed and revised the Grant Opportunity Guidelines to clarify the requirements, and eligibility of potential supporting work, to ensure the required resilience uplift can be achieved. On 1 May 2024, the revised Guidelines were released to Telstra.

Once Telstra's proposal is received, the department will assess it against the revised Guidelines which will include an assessment against achieving value with relevant money.

Following the assessment process, the department will provide a recommendation to the decision-maker. It is expected the outcome will be announced in mid-2024.

Round 1

Round 1 of the Mobile Network Hardening Program is providing $23.5 million (GST inclusive) in grant funding to Optus, Telstra and TPG across two stages to deliver approximately 1,000 projects to strengthen the resilience of regional telecommunications infrastructure.

The first stage is funding the enhancement of the battery backup power at 467 base stations (XLS: 28 KB) funded under the first two rounds of the Government's Mobile Black Spot Program. These upgrades will increase backup operation at these base stations to at least 12 hours.

The second stage is funding the delivery of over 532 resilience upgrades at mobile base station sites across Australia. These upgrades comprise:

  • the deployment of new portable and permanent generators to supply additional back-up power during power outages;
  • upgrading battery systems to increase back-up power capacity;
  • adding battery extension devices to enhance existing back-up power capacity at key sites within mobile networks;
  • improving transmission resilience within regional mobile network clusters to reduce single points of network failure; and
  • physical hardening of sites against bushfire damage.

To date, 60 per cent of Round 1 projects have been completed, with the remaining sites scheduled to be completed in 2024.

Future opportunities

A further round of the MNHP is expected in 2024.