The Australian Labor Party has said that if it wins government in the upcoming federal election, it would like to spend AU$20 million on an audit of mobile coverage across the country to lead a AU$400 million regional fund to increase mobile coverage, especially along roads.
“A competitive tender process will be used to identify a partner company capable of installing mobile signal metering equipment on Australia Post’s means of transport, in order to gather the best information possible,” said opposition leader Anthony Albanese and shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland. in a statement.
The need for a standard for measuring mobile coverage was put forth by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission late last year, trying to deal with telcos that interpret the rules for tracking coverage in different ways. Optus and TPG usually do it with predicted outdoor coverage on a standard handset, while Telstra predicts coverage based on an external antenna.
The telcos must also use prediction as objects such as buildings, walls and fallen trees can come between the user and the tower, lowering the received signal. Each telco also has different inputs and assumptions in its prediction.
The party said that when it appears to expand coverage, it would do so in a “multi-carrier” fashion.
“Labor will also commit AU$200 million to continue investing in place-based connectivity projects. Based on the Regional Connectivity Program, funded projects can include enhanced mobile voice and data coverage, targeted fiber deployments, and enhanced microwave and fiber backhaul capacity to locations around the world. . regional and remote Australia,” the pair added.
The party also pledges to pump AU$30 million to improve on-farm connectivity and wireless extensions to enable greater use of sensors and connected machines.
Labor has previously said it would expand fiber to 660,000 regional buildings as part of a plan to extend fiber to the node upgrades to 1.5 million additional buildings. It also recently approved the fixed wireless upgrades, largely funded by federal money, announced in March.
“We will grow the economy by investing in productivity-enhancing digital infrastructure and improving the quality of life for regional communities and road commuters through better mobile coverage,” added Rowland.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, NBN announced an additional 90,000 suburban areas where it would expand its fiber upgrade program.
Upgrade footprints have been improved in Byron Bay, Charlestown, Dubbo, Kincumber, Port Macquarie and Wyong in NSW, and West Wodonga and Wodonga in Victoria.
New suburbs announced across the country are:
New South Wales
Albury, Berowra, Blue Haven, Calala, Cardiff South, East Ballina, Kanwal, Kingscliff, Macquarie Hills, Rutherford, Shellharbour, Suffolk Park, Watanobi, Wauchope and West Tamworth
Herne Hill, Highton, Horsham, Kyabram, Lara, Mildura, North Wonthaggi, Pakenham, Queenscliff, Roxburgh Park, Warragul
Glenvale, Newport, Norman Gardens, Palmwoods, Petrie, Wurtulla
Attadale, Canning Vale, Halls Head, Wannanu
After opening its upgrade program last month, NBN told Senate Estimates on Thursday that it had received 250 orders and would begin connecting upgraded customers this week.
The company will begin taking orders for curb upgrades in May, with the company saying the timing was due to wanting to avoid the election and the injunctions for government-owned entities.