The ACT has shared in the latest round of funding for the Federal Government’s $380 million Mobile Black Spot Program, with three new base stations planned to boost coverage in remote areas of the Territory.
The three new stations will be located in Namadgi National Park at Corin Forest Mountain Resort (Optus), Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (Optus) and Top Naas (Telstra), bringing mobile phone coverage to the most frequented parts of the park.
They are part of a rollout of 182 stations across the country and will bring safety benefits for park users and rural landholders, as well as emergency services, especially during bushfire seasons.
It is hoped the new stations will be up and running before the next bushfire season.
The announcement of successful Round 5 locations brings the total number of base stations being funded under the Mobile Black Spot Program to 1229.
The Federal Government is contributing $34 million to Round 5, which will deliver total new investment of more than $73 million together with co-contributions from the funding recipients – Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone – and state and territory governments.
The Mobile Black Spot Program has helped deliver more than 800 mobile base stations across Australia.
The announcement comes as Telstra prepares to upgrade an established mobile phone base station in Red Hill in the inner south, and build a new one in Harrison in the north.
Separate development applications have been lodged for the projects, which Telstra says will improve services and network capacity.
The proposed Red Hill base station opposite 117 Mugga Way will replace an existing ageing facility on the same lot, and will involve the installation of a new 20-metre high pole with a turret headframe and four new panel antennas.
The Harrison site is only 61 metres from an Optus facility and located near the northeast edge of the Harrison sports playing field, adjacent to an existing 18-metre tall floodlight pole.
Harrison Public School is about 130 metres to the south, Harrison Early Childhood Centre is about 180 metres to the west, Mother Theresa School is about 190 metres to the north, and the closest residences are about 200 metres to the east.
Telstra proposes to install a standalone 30-metre tall pole with a headframe and six-panel antennas, three of which will be 4G, with the other three 5G antennas expected to be installed within two years.
Telstra decided on its own standalone facility on ACT Government advice, instead of co-locating with the Optus facility or sharing an existing floodlight mast.
“The proposed facility is vital infrastructure that will provide enhanced services to customers, providing improved mobile coverage and network capacity to areas that are currently experiencing limited reception,” the DA says.
“Due to the growth of wireless broadband internet services, particularly for new data and video applications, the proposed facility is important for providing the much-needed improvement to the quality of these connections for both the current and future usage of residents and business operators in Harrison, Franklin and the surrounding area.”
Telstra acknowledges in both DAs the concerns about the health effects of electronic magnetic fields (EMFs), but says the proposed base stations will comply with the mandated standard for EMF set by Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), which is based on the safety guidelines recommended by the World Health Organisation.