The government has revealed the locations of the first mobile towers to be built under the initial round of its blackspot program.
The government said that work has already been completed on nineteen of the 499 of the new or upgraded base stations funded by the program.
The remainder will be completed over the next three years, said a statement from communications minister Mitch Fifield and deputy National Party leader Senator Fiona Nash.
The first round of the program is worth $385 million, including $100 million from the federal government and $88 million from state governments.
The remainder of the blackspot funding comes from local governments and other organisations, as well as Vodafone and Telstra, both of which successfully bid for funding under the scheme.
The government revealed last year that the first round will cover 429 Telstra base stations and 70 Vodafone base stations.
The government has offered details of the first 78 base stations covered by the blackspot program. Work on this first tranche of sites is due to be completed by the end of June.
The towers are located in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
Work on a second round is underway, with funding allocations expected to be revealed by the end of 2016.
“We believe the mobile blackspot program is a great way to encourage competition and choice of mobile provider, which is something many Australians in regional and rural areas have never experienced,” Vodafone’s chief strategy officer, Dan Lloyd, said in a statement.
“We successfully bid for 70 sites throughout Australia as part of the program and these sites, along with other considerable network investments, have put us in a position to offer a serious alternative for regional mobile customers.”
Work on 12 Vodafone sites will be completed by July.
“Already 18 mobile base stations have been completed with the first six switched on in December 2015,” said Telstra’s group managing director, networks, Mike Wright.Read more: Vodafone sees ‘growing momentum’ for USO overhaul
Infrastructure Australia yesterday called for changes to the scheme that guarantees access to a basic telephone service for Australians in regional areas. The organisation's 15-year Australian Infrastructure Plan said the government should look at orienting the scheme away from fixed-line telephony towards mobile services.