THE state government will build three new mobile phone towers in the Wimmera as part of a new Victorian black spot scheme.
Telstra towers will be constructed at Areegra in Yarriambiack Shire and Neuarpurr and Dergholm in West Wimmera Shire through the Victorian Mobile Black Spot Project.
In January, the state government announced it had abandoned the fourth and final round of the federal government’s Mobile Black Spot Program in favour of its own system.
The government announced on Wednesday it would fund 28 new mobile tower sites. Telstra will build 17 of these, and Optus the remainder.
Regional Development Minister and Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford said adequate mobile coverage provided a lifeline for regional communities during emergencies.
“We all know that mobile communication signals aren’t great in some parts of Western Victoria and that’s why we have placed such a huge priority on this project,” she said.
Telstra area general manager Steve Tinker said while the company’s mobile network reached 99.4 per cent of the population, it could not work alone in regional and remote communities.
“That’s why partnerships like this one with the Victorian Government are so important,” he said.
“We know how important mobile connectivity is to regional communities and we’re proud to announce that we’re matching the more than $7 million Telstra has been awarded through the Victorian Mobile Black Spot Project. We will now commence the detailed planning and approvals process, with a view to connecting the sites by the end of December 2019.”
The state government is also continuing work to develop a digital plan for the Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership area to assess the region’s needs and priorities.
The initiative includes investigative fieldwork, and will map services including mobile coverage, fixed broadband for businesses, and digital hubs.
The plan is due to be finished later this year.