Improving mobile connectivity

Mobile Telecommunications Working Group

Australians expect they will have access to a reliable mobile service much in the same way as they expect they will have access to water and electricity services.

Mobile connectivity boosts Australia’s productivity and allows more people to stay connected in a meaningful way. Where mobile coverage is not included in the design of new developments or expanding suburbs, there will be diminished digital connectivity and inclusion outcomes for residents in those areas. A lack of mobile coverage can prevent people from operating a business, or accessing digital services such as online banking. It can also limit social participation, including checking up on a loved-one.

The Department co-leads the Mobile Telecommunications Working Group with the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure.

The Working Group was established by Commonwealth, state and territory Ministers for Planning in 2023 and it delivered a Final Report in February 2024 outlining a suite of agreed national principles on improving mobile coverage in new developments and growth areas.

The principles are summarised as:

  • There is a need for reliable mobile telecommunications connectivity: Recognising mobile telecommunications as an essential utility in all established and future growth areas, including the community's expectation they will have access to a mobile service that has adequate coverage and capacity.
  • Responding to shifting demands on mobile telecommunications networks: Accepting and recognising demand on telecommunications networks and infrastructure will increase in new developments and growth areas. This demand will need to be met with the deployment of additional telecommunications equipment and infrastructure to provide sufficient coverage and capacity to serve the area.
  • Promoting infrastructure sharing, and its benefits, in deployments: Acknowledging the benefits of co-location of telecommunications equipment such as reduced deployment and operation costs, network reliability, improved competition, and reduced environmental impacts.
  • Early intervention and appropriate regulatory safeguards where needed: Ensuring mobile telecommunications coverage and infrastructure are considered in the early stages of land planning and zoning processes to enable streamlined deployment and removal of development approval barriers.
  • Safeguard and support existing and future mobile telecommunications and enabling infrastructure: Identify and safeguard existing sites where there is larger telecommunications infrastructure, such as poles or towers, providing mobile telecommunications services to enable future upgrades. Land use planning should identify and safeguard future sites using proper planning considerations and technical guidelines as they relate to mobile telecommunications infrastructure and enabling infrastructure.
  • Information sharing: Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and Mobile Network Infrastructure Providers (MNIPs) should be encouraged to share their current and future network deployment plans with relevant planning authorities, and the information should be treated on a commercial in confidence basis. Planning authorities should make information about expected rezoning activities and land releases available to the MNOs and MNIPs with sufficient time for industry to engage in planning processes.

The Minister for Communications changed the Telecommunications in New Developments policy in February 2024 expanding its scope from fixed broadband and voice services to include obligations on developers to consider mobile coverage in new developments with more than 50 housing lots. The department is monitoring the effectiveness of the policy change and will provide advice to the Minister on whether further regulation is needed.

The department continues to work closely with the Mobile Telecommunications Working Group on the practical application of the national principles in planning arrangements.

Mobile Coverage

Australians deserve access to reliable, high-quality, and affordable telecommunications. Mobile infrastructure, for the most part, is provided on a commercial basis.

Mobile network operators continue to invest heavily in expanding their networks to improve coverage for customers. In metropolitan areas this investment is driven by strong competition and economic pressures. In some cases, the Government subsidises investment in regional and remote areas where commercial incentives are insufficient. Information on regional communication programs is available here.

There are a number of factors that can impact on mobile reception and a user’s ability to obtain and maintain a mobile signal. These factors include:

  • the device or handset being used,
  • hilly terrain,
  • buildings (and their internal structure)
  • other physical obstacles interrupting the line of sight to and from nearby mobile towers or
  • when a sudden increase in users attempt to access mobile services at the same time, causing congestion on nearby mobile network infrastructure.

Products are available to improve mobile reception, including external antennas or authorised repeaters. Each of the mobile network operators are able to provide advice on the best handset and settings for local conditions. Wi-Fi calling is another option that is available for users with a compatible device. Wi-Fi calling allows customers to call and text over a Wi-Fi connection.

If you experience connectivity issues in your local area, you should discuss these matters with your network provider in the first instance. Mobile network operators publish maps that show the predictive mobile coverage across Australia. By entering your address, you will be able to see whether 3G, 4G and/or 5G coverage is available in your location.

You can access the predictive coverage maps at the links below.

Information about proposed and current telecommunications facilities is available on the Radio Frequency National Site Archive (RFNSA). The RFNSA is managed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, the peak body for the mobile telecommunications sector.

You can subscribe on the RFNSA to receive information about future installations of telecommunications equipment at a particular site or area.

Consumers who are dissatisfied with their mobile phone service can raise their concerns with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). While the TIO cannot instruct mobile network operators to install or upgrade mobile infrastructure to improve network performance, it can consider complaints from consumers who feel they are not receiving the mobile phone service they are contracted to receive from their operator.

The TIO can be contacted via its website at or by phoning 1800 062 058.