The Mobile Black Spot Program (the MBSP) is a Government initiative that invests in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage and competition across Australia.
The MBSP is supported by co-contributions from state and local governments, national Mobile Network Operators (Optus, Telstra, TPG Telecom Ltd (formerly Vodafone) , Mobile Network Infrastructure Providers (Field Solutions Group and OneWiFi).
Under the MBSP to date (Rounds 1 to 7), the Australian Government's commitment has generated a total investment of more than $1 billion, to deliver up to 1,400 new mobile base stations across Australia.
For more information about the MBSP, including information on how the locations of base stations were selected, see the Mobile Black Spot Program's FAQs page.
On 11 December 2023, the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, announced the outcomes of the combined grant opportunity for Round 7 of the MBSP and Round 3 of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) with $170.2 million (GST inclusive) in funding awarded for a total of 136 mobile and broadband solutions across Australia.
As part of this announcement, the Minister awarded $55 million (GST inclusive) through Round 7 of the MBSP to deliver 62 new mobile solutions. This includes:
- $41.3 million to deliver 43 new base stations across Australia; and
- $13.6 million will be provided for 19 new base stations located in First Nations communities, delivering on the Government’s commitment to improving digital connectivity in First Nations communities.
The new mobile base stations will deliver new and improved mobile coverage to these communities and will also improve highway coverage. The Round will also fund 25 new OneWiFi neutral host base stations that will support multi-carrier outcomes. Optus will offer services from these base stations.
The combined round used a competitive merit-based grants process to award funding, in accordance with the public Grant Opportunity Guidelines published on the Grant Connect website. The design of the combined round was informed by feedback from members of the public and the telecommunications industry. Further information on the public consultation process is available at Department's Have Your Say page.
This funding was delivered as part of the Government’s $1.1 billion Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia. The Plan commits $400 million to expand mobile coverage and improve communications resilience, including investment to fund future rounds of the MBSP, and $200 million to fund place-based communications solutions through the RCP.
The rollout schedule will be published on the carriers’ websites once the contracts have been executed.
Improving Mobile Coverage Round
On 19 October 2023, the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, announced grants totalling $37.2 million to deliver improved mobile coverage and quality of service to 42 Target Locations through the Improving Mobile Coverage Round (IMCR) of the MBSP. An additional four Target Locations are expected to receive improved mobile coverage from existing projects under other regional communications grant programs and commercial investment.
The IMCR is implementing the Government's commitments to improve mobile coverage and quality of service at 54 Target Locations across rural, regional and remote Australia.
The IMCR used a competitive merit-based grants process to award funding, in accordance with the public Grant Opportunity Guidelines published on the Grant Connect website.
Applications for funding were sought from Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Network Infrastructure Providers to address identified issues at the Target Locations.
The design of the IMCR was informed by feedback from members of the public and the telecommunications industry. Further information on the public consultation process that was undertaken is available at Have your say opportunity guidelines for the Improving Mobile Coverage Round Mobile Black Spot Program.
Unfortunately, the IMCR did not result in outcomes for 12 Target Locations:
- five locations did not receive applications;
- four locations received applications which were assessed by the department as not delivering value for money; and
- three locations received applications that the department assessed did not satisfy the technical coverage or solution requirements of the Guidelines.
Four of these locations are expected to receive coverage improvements from projects previously funded under the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) and Peri‑Urban Mobile Program (PUMP), or through commercial solutions.
The department is considering options to further test industry solutions at two of the unsuccessful Target Locations (Majors Creek and Mangrove Mountain) where there is a reasonable prospect that a value for money solution may exist.
The remaining six Target Locations (Breera Brand Highway, Carwoola, Queenstown, Wee Jasper, Monaro Highway and Herne Hill) are not being progressed further through the IMCR as there is a low chance of success at this time, noting the option for mobile carriers and infrastructure providers to submit applications in future competitive grant rounds, including the MBSP, RCP and Peri-Urban Mobile Program (PUMP).
There will be further opportunities under the Government's Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia through the $400 million committed to boost multi-carrier mobile coverage on regional roads, improve mobile coverage in underserved regional and remote communities, and increase the resilience of communications services and public safety communications facilities.
MBSP rollout update—December 2023
The MBSP is delivering improved coverage outcomes and benefits to the Australian community with 1,118 base stations activated as at December 2023.
Base stations funded under Rounds 1-5A are currently scheduled to be operational by 30 June 2024.
Base station delays
Due to a range of external factors outside of the direct control of the mobile network operators, some base stations have experienced delays and require additional time in order to be delivered.
Additional information on delays can be found on the Mobile Black Spot Program's FAQs page.
Base stations that are no longer required or cannot be built
Under the MBSP there are a small number of planned base stations that cannot be built at the original scheduled location. In these cases, the mobile network operator will explore all options to deliver new and improved coverage to the original planned area including investigating alternative sites.
There are also a small number of base stations that are no longer required to be built as coverage is now being delivered by one or more base stations nearby. In these cases, the funding for the original base station has been used to fund an alternative site.
Further information, including a list of alternative sites and a list of base stations that will no longer be built under the MBSP, is available on the Mobile Black Spot Program's FAQs page.
Mobile Black Spot Program
GPO Box 594
Canberra ACT 2601
Additional information and resources
- Mobile Black Spot Program discussion paper
- Mobile Black Spot Program—Round 1 Grant Guidelines
- Round 1 funded base stations (499)—link to data.gov
- Round 1 funded base stations (499)—(XLSX 168KB)
- National map of Round 1 base stations
- Mobile Black Spot Program—Round 2 Grant Guidelines - version 1.1
- Round 2 funded base stations (266)—link to data.gov
- Round 2 funded base stations (266)—(XLSX151KB)
- National Map of Round 2 base stations
Priority Locations Round (Round 3)
- Mobile Black Spot Program—Priority Locations Grant Guidelines
- List of 125 priority locations and their outcomes
- Priority Locations Round funded base stations (102)—link to data.gov
- Priority Locations Round funded base stations (102)—(XLSX 141KB)
- National Map of Priority Locations Round base stations
- Mobile Black Spot Program—Round 4 Grant Guidelines
- Round 4 funded base stations (180)—link to data.gov
- Round 4 funded base stations (180)—(XLSX 147KB)
- National Map of Round 4 base stations
- Mobile Black Spot Program—Round 5 Grant Guidelines
- Round 5 funded base stations (182)—link to data.gov
- Round 5 funded base stations (182)—[XLSX 149KB]
- National Map of Round 5 base stations
- Mobile Black Spot Program—Round 5A Grant Guidelines
- Round 5A funded base stations (67)—link to data.gov
- Round 5A funded base stations (67)—[XLSX 142KB]
Improving Mobile Coverage Round
- Regional Connectivity Program Round 3 (with Mobile Black Spot (Round 7) opportunities) Grant Guidelines - version 1.2
- Round 7 funded base stations