Frequently Asked Questions—Mobile Black Spot Program

The Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP) invests in telecommunications infrastructure to improve mobile coverage and competition across Australia.

MBSP funded base stations

Under Rounds 1 to 5A of the MBSP, more than 1,270 mobile base stations have been funded and are being deployed across the country to improve mobile coverage in regional, rural and remote Australia. The indicative locations of these base stations can be viewed on the National Map under the Communications Dataset by clicking ‘Explore map data’.

Further information on the Mobile Black Spot Program, including lists of the base stations funded to date under each round is available at Additional information and resources on the department's website.

Information about the expected timing of the rollout of mobile base stations funded under the MBSP is available on the mobile network operator (MNO) and mobile network infrastructure provider (MNIP) websites:

The rollout sequence is being determined by the MNOs and MNIPs based on various factors, including obtaining local government planning approval, landowner agreement where necessary, and access to existing infrastructure such as power and backhaul.
These rollout schedules are regularly updated as the rollout progresses and subject to change.

The mobile network operators (MNOs) and mobile network infrastructure providers (MNIPs) were asked to come forward with proposals to build new or upgraded mobile base stations that would deliver new and improved mobile coverage to identified black spot locations across Australia.
All proposed base stations included in the applications were assessed and ranked according to the assessment criteria outlined in the program guidelines for each respective round of the MBSP.
The assessment process ranked base station applications based on how they performed against the relevant assessment criteria. The department recommended base stations for funding based on the assessment against the criteria including value for money. The assessment criteria included, but was not limited to, consideration of the:

  • expected coverage that each base station would deliver;
  • number of premises and the length of major transport routes being covered;
  • total cost of the base stations;
  • amount of Commonwealth funding being sought;
  • amount of funding the applicant was proposing to co-contribute; and
  • amount of co-contribution secured from a third party such as a state or local government.

Base stations that have been delayed

Base station deployment is a complex process that typically takes between 12 and 18 months to complete. A number of separate phases are involved including site inspection, detailed design, planning approvals, site acquisition, construction and final activation.
As well as the mobile network operator building the base station, a number of external parties are directly and indirectly involved in the deployment process. These other parties include land owners, local communities, local councils, state government departments, power authorities, other mobile network operators, equipment manufacturers and infrastructure providers.
Planning approvals and site acquisition in particular are subject to external processes that are typically outside of the direct control of the mobile network operators. In some instances, these external factors may impact the delivery timeframe for a base station. For example, additional fauna or flora surveys may be required before local planning approval is granted, or negotiations with land owners may take longer than anticipated.
The mobile network operators are committed to working through issues as they arise. The MBSP remains focused in delivering new coverage as soon as possible.

Information about the expected timing for individual base stations can be found on the mobile network operators' and infrastructure providers' websites: Field Solutions GroupOptusTelstra and Vodafone. The mobile network operators and infrastructure providers regularly update their rollout schedules as the rollout progresses.

Base stations that are no longer required or cannot be built

In a small number of cases a base station is no longer required as the coverage that the base station would have provided is now being delivered by one or more other funded base stations nearby.

Reasons why a base station cannot be built vary, but can include difficulty in obtaining planning approval for a base station at the original scheduled location, difficulty reaching agreement with the land owner/s to use the site, as well as unforeseen technical issues with integrating the base station into the existing mobile network.

Before declaring that a base station cannot be built at its scheduled location, the mobile network operator will explore all options to provide new and improved coverage to the location, including investigating alternative sites.
In some cases, the carrier has been able to enhance another base station in the area to meet the coverage requirements of the originally planned base station.
If the mobile network operator has exhausted all options and a planned base station cannot be built at its original scheduled location, then funding for the original base station can be used to fund an alternative site.
In this situation, the mobile network operator is required to propose a new site that will offer new handheld mobile coverage to another identified mobile black spot location, which is then assessed by the department against criteria consistent with the program guidelines.
State government approval of the proposed alternative site is also required if the original scheduled site is co-funded by the state.

The following base stations have been approved as alternative sites and will now be funded under the program:

  • Archer River Roadhouse, QLD (Telstra)
  • Beachmere North (Palm Lake Resort), QLD
  • Boggabri, NSW
  • Boondooma, QLD
  • Broughton, NSW
  • Bryant Road, (Marchagee East), WA
  • Burringurrah, WA
  • Cape Hillsborough, QLD
  • Carcoar, NSW
  • Cedar Creek Falls, QLD
  • Charleroi, VIC
  • Curra Estate Road, QLD
  • Daysdale, NSW
  • Denbarker, WA
  • Diamond Ridge, QLD
  • Douglas Daly Holiday Park, NT
  • Duckadang Camp, QLD
  • Girard Hilltop, NSW
  • Girraween National Park, QLD
  • Goldie, VIC
  • Gollan, NSW
  • Graytown, VIC
  • Guluguba, QLD
  • Jiggi, NSW
  • Jurien East, WA
  • Kalannie North, WA
  • Kanmantoo, SA
  • Keswick Island, QLD
  • Kingsford, WA
  • Kyancutta, SA
  • Lake Borumba, QLD
  • Lake Magenta, WA
  • Lingara, NT
  • Mt Hart Airport, WA
  • Mount Margaret Community, WA
  • Muirs Highway, Dingup, WA
  • Myrrhee South, VIC
  • Ningaloo Station, WA
  • Noccundra, QLD
  • North Dorrigo, NSW
  • Parnngurr, WA
  • Rainbow Valley, NT
  • Ravensthorpe North, WA
  • Shelford, VIC
  • Tabulam, NSW
  • Tara Community, NT
  • Tintaldra, VIC
  • Tirranna Road House, QLD
  • Traralgon South, VIC
  • Tylers Hill, TAS
  • William Bay, WA
  • Wilroy, WA
  • Winchelsea South, VIC
  • Woodsdale, TAS
  • Wyndham, NSW
  • Yarraden (Musgrave River Roadhouse—Telstra), QLD

The following base stations cannot be built under the program due to unforeseen technical, site acquisition or planning approval issues. However, mobile coverage is being enhanced from another base station funded under the program, a state/territory program or from a commercially built site, improving coverage to the scheduled black spot area:

  • Apslawn, TAS
  • Archer River Roadhouse, QLD (Optus)
  • Aurora Kakadu, NT
  • Avon Downs, NT
  • Bonalbo B, NSW
  • Brandum, TAS
  • Buckland North, TAS
  • Deepdene, WA
  • Devonport, TAS
  • Drysdale River Station, WA
  • Kevington, VIC
  • Koonorigan, NSW
  • Laguna, NSW (Telstra)
  • Lower Peacock, NSW
  • Lyonville, VIC
  • Molyullah, VIC
  • Mount Barnett Roadhouse, WA
  • Mount Carrington, NSW
  • Mount Tomah, NSW
  • Musgrave River Roadhouse, QLD (Optus)
  • Ocean Beach, WA
  • Pilliga Forrest, NSW
  • Salmon Holes, WA
  • Sandy Hills, NSW
  • Ungarie, NSW
  • Waratah Bay, VIC
  • Wye River, VIC
  • Yarras, NSW
  • Yellow Mountain, NSW
  • Yelvertoft, QLD

The following base stations cannot be built under the program due to unforeseen site acquisition or planning approval issues*:
*There are currently no alternate coverage solutions for these locations under the program.

  • Alexander Bay (Campground), WA
  • Barambah Environmental Education Centre, QLD
  • Beaconsfield Upper, VIC
  • Bells Beach (Bellbrae), VIC
  • Belmont, QLD
  • Bonogin, Sunray Drive, QLD
  • Burbank, QLD
  • Cashmere, QLD
  • Cedar Creek, QLD 4207 (Telstra)
  • Coalcliff, NSW
  • Crosslands Reserve, NSW
  • Cundinup, WA
  • Danbulla, QLD
  • Daniell Siding, WA
  • Depot Beach, NSW
  • Dittmer, QLD
  • Eliot Falls, QLD
  • Fig Tree Hill, NSW
  • Fortescue Bay, TAS
  • Glen Valley, VIC
  • Grey, WA
  • Homevale, QLD
  • Judbury South, TAS
  • Kalorama, VIC
  • Kennedy Ranges National Park, WA
  • Lake Corella, QLD
  • Lake Perseverance Active Recreation Centre, QLD
  • Learmonth, WA
  • Malcolm Siding, WA
  • Miena, TAS
  • Mintabie, SA
  • Montacute, SA
  • Mount Burnside, WA
  • Mount Burrell, NSW
  • Mount Pingerup, WA
  • Moreton Island (Bulwer), QLD
  • Mungana Mine, QLD
  • Red Bluff, WA
  • Red Hill, VIC
  • Rossville State School, QLD
  • Saint Leonards, VIC
  • Shoreham, VIC
  • Sunshine Coast Enviro Centre, QLD
  • Taggerty, VIC
  • Tjirrkarli, WA
  • Tjuwaliyn Hot Springs, NT
  • Trephina Gorge West (PIP), NT
  • Waterfall-Helensburgh Railway, NSW
  • Wongarra, VIC
  • Wongawallan, QLD
  • Woodwark, QLD

Next round of MBSP - Improving Mobile Coverage Round

The Government has committed $40 million (GST exclusive) in funding to the Improving Mobile Coverage Round (IMCR) of the MBSP, which will commence following an approach-to-market on 2 February 2023.

The approach-to-market is open for 10 weeks at www.grants.gov.au with applications due by  5pm AEDT Thursday 13 April 2023.

It is expected the outcomes of the competitive assessment process will be announced towards the middle of 2023.

Future opportunities

The National Mobile Black Spot Database closed for nominations on 11 October 2018 and new nominations are no longer being accepted. However, the database can still be used to assist applicants in identifying black spot locations previously nominated, which may not have been addressed through previous rounds of the MBSP, other government programs or commercial investment, when submitting applications for funding under future programs.
Local communities and councils are encouraged to engage with the mobile network operators and infrastructure providers, as well as state and territory governments, to explore opportunities to improve mobile coverage in their area through Federal and state government initiatives. Experience has shown that when local communities and councils engage with the mobile providers it increases the likelihood of an application being put forward under government funded programs.
Please see the following contact details for the mobile network operators and infrastructure providers:
Optus
Email: mobileblackspotprogramme@optus.com.au
Website: www.optus.com.au/about/network/mbsp

Telstra
Website: www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/telstra-regional-australia/contact-us

TPG Telecom (formerly Vodafone)
Email:  gary.chant@tpgtelecom.com.au
Website: www.vodafone.com.au/network

Field Solution Group
Website: www.fieldsolutions-group.com/company/contact

As part of the Government’s $656 million Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia:

  • $400 million was committed to boost multi-carrier mobile coverage on regional roads, improve mobile coverage in under-served regional and remote communities, and increase the resilience of communications services and public safety communications facilities; and
  • $200 million for two additional rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) to invest in place-based digital connectivity infrastructure projects in regional communities.

The Government is now consulting on draft program guidelines for Round 3 of the RCP, which includes the first stages of funding under the Better Connectivity Plan of up to
$150 million across two streams:

  • A $100 million Regional Connectivity Solutions stream for place-based solutions that deliver new or upgraded broadband services or upgraded mobile services; and
  • A $50 million Mobile Black Spot Solutions stream that delivers New Handheld Coverage to regional, rural and remote Australia.

Further information on this round of the Government’s Better Connectivity Plan is available on the department’s Regional Connectivity Program page.

General

Each of the three major mobile network operators Optus, Telstra and TPG Telecom (formerly Vodafone Hutchison Australia) published predictive coverage maps on their websites.
The predictive coverage maps are available at:
Optus:  www.optus.com.au/about/network/coverage
Telstra: www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/our-coverage
TPG Telecom: www.vodafone.com.au/network/coverage-checker
It’s important to note that the predictive coverage maps have been created using tools that predict the areas likely to receive coverage. This means that while coverage footprint outlined on the maps is generally accurate, there may be some locations with these areas your device will not work. You should contact the mobile service providers to discuss the level of coverage you can expect to receive, particularly at and within your residence.

Mobile coverage outcomes can be influenced by a number of factors such as location, local terrain, distance from the base station, number of concurrent users and other physical obstacles such as trees and buildings (including their internal structure) that may degrade the quality of signal being received from the nearest mobile base station. It is important to note that these factors can also change over time. The particular type of handset and its settings can also affect mobile reception and mobile customers will need a compatible device in order to access the mobile network operator’s (MNOs) 4G and 5G networks.
The MNOs have products available to improve mobile reception, such as external antennas and authorised repeaters. The most appropriate antenna may depend upon the network and prices can vary. Customers can obtain advice on the best solution, handset and settings for local conditions by contacting their service provider.
Wi-Fi calling / National Broadband Network (NBN)
Wi-Fi calling is also available on the mobile carriers’ networks for use with a compatible device allowing some customers to call and text over a Wi-Fi broadband connection. This can be particularly helpful for those experiencing poor or no mobile coverage inside their home by providing an alternative form of connectivity. Customers can obtain further advice regarding this option by contacting their mobile service provider.
Further information can also be found on the Optus, Telstra and TPG Telecom (formerly Vodafone Hutchison Australia) websites at:
www.optus.com.au/shop/mobile/network/coverage/wifi-calling
www.telstra.com.au/support/mobiles-devices/telstra-wifi-calling
www.vodafone.com.au/support/device/wi-fi-calling
For residents who do not already have a broadband connection, information about the availability of the NBN, including how to connect and a list of providers in their area, is available on the NBN Co website at www.nbnco.com.au.  

You may also wish to contact the Regional Tech Hub (the Hub) for further advice on your specific connectivity challenges. Funded by the Australian Government and launched in December 2020, the Hub offers independent and free advice about telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote Australia. The Hub includes a website, online helpdesk, phone support line and social media access through Facebook and Twitter. You can contact the hotline on 1300 081 029 or visit the Hub’s website at www.regionaltechhub.org.au.

BIt is important to note that all three mobile network operators (MNOs) have announced their intention to deactivate their 3G mobile networks as part of their transition to new more advanced mobile technology.
Telstra
In October 2019, Telstra announced it will close its 3G network in 2024, with the timing of the announcement allowing approximately four and a half years for customers to transition from 3G phones, and for Telstra to continue to expand and upgrade its 4G network. Importantly, as part of this announcement, Telstra has committed to complete its rollout of 4G technology across the country so that it matches the existing 3G network coverage before the switch-off. More information on Telstra’s 3G network closure can be found at: www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/support/3g-service-closure.
TPG Telecom (formerly Vodafone)
The Vodafone 4G network now covers more than 24 million Australians and they continue to expand their state-of-the-art 5G network. With superior speeds and greater connectivity available across these networks, Vodafone are now preparing to switch off its legacy 3G mobile network by the end of 2023.
This means if you’re a Vodafone customer or business that uses 3G, it is time to upgrade to a new device that can work on the 4G and 5G networks. Vodafone has committed to keeping its remaining 3G customers connected and help ensure they make a smooth transition to 4G or 5G prior to the December 2023 switch off date. For more information, please visit Vodafone’s website at www.vodafone.com.au/support/network/3g-closure.
Optus
Optus has announced that from September 2024, it will be repurposing its 3G technology to boost the capacity, speed and reliability of its 4G network and rollout 5G to even more Australians.
This means that from September 2024, 3G services will no longer be available on the Optus network. If your device or SIM card relies on 3G, you’ll need to upgrade your device to stay connected. Over 2023, Optus be reaching out to its customers who they believe may be impacted, to let them know whether they need to upgrade their device, their SIM card or both.

Further information is on the Optus website.

The Australian Government acknowledges the importance of having access to highly reliable communications networks. However, it is important to understand that no communications technology can provide 100 per cent resilience as any communication system can be temporarily affected by adverse conditions, particularly during a power outage or natural disaster.
Access to power is a critical issue for communication networks, and loss of power has been the reason for most network outages in recent bushfire emergencies.
As part of effective emergency preparation and planning, it is strongly recommended that people utilise a range of communications and sources of information in an emergency situation to ensure they stay aware of local conditions. This could include fixed line telephone, mobile services (including Wi-Fi calling), internet, television and radio. For example, during emergency situations people can listen to ABC Local Radio to receive up to date warnings. A portable transistor radio with a spare set of batteries can provide a valuable backup in the event there is a loss of mains power.
For more information, please visit Communications in emergencies and natural disasters on the department’s website.