THE Riverina will benefit from new mobile phone towers as part of the $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program from the Liberals and Nationals’ Government.

Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, and Minister for Regional Communications Senator Bridget McKenzie have announced sites from the Priority Locations round of the program.

This announcement delivers on the Government’s commitment to address the coverage issues identified at Dirnaseer and Wantabadgery in the Riverina.

The Telstra base station at Dirnaseer will provide new coverage mainly to the west of the locality, while the installation at Wantabadgery will provide new and improved coverage to the village and surrounding areas, including popular camping ground Sandy Beach Reserve.

The Government has flagged 106 priority locations across Australia which will benefit from improved mobile phone coverage.

Optus, Telstra and Vodafone will build 102 new base stations under the Priority Location round.

In addition, the carriers have commercial plans for new base stations that will further address mobile black spot issues in a number of the identified locations.

Mr McCormack said the Government was making good on its commitment to bring rural and regional communications into the 21st Century.

“The Federal Government is delivering mobile phone coverage to 867 locations across Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Program,” Mr McCormack said.

“This announcement for Wantabadgery and Dirnaseer today brings the number of towers addressing mobile black spots in the Riverina and Central West to 20, including 18 towers in rounds one and two of the program.

“This improved coverage will see local businesses and residents benefit from reliable access to mobile communications.

“Labor did not invest a single dollar into improving mobile coverage, despite being in Government for six years.”

Minister McKenzie said construction of the new mobile phone towers would get under way soon.

“We’ve committed $220 million to improve mobile black spots across our vast country. $60 million of this funding is targeting priority black spot areas with poor or no mobile coverage,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Only the Coalition understands the importance of modern telecommunications for our regional communities, and has implemented a plan to deliver.

“I’m excited to reach this next milestone of the Mobile Black Spot Program and look forward to seeing the first base stations under this round completed later this year.”

The Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program is improving mobile coverage across Australia including along major regional transport routes, in small communities and at identified priority locations. More than 456 locations across Australia have already received new or improved coverage through rounds one and two of the program.

The base station rollout schedules for all three rounds of the program will be available on the Telstra, Optus and Vodafone websites.

More information about the program and a list of the priority locations is available at: communications.gov.au/mbsp.

Shane Manning