Published on Aug 3, 2015

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Mobile coverage in the Cessnock LGA is set to get a boost as the Australian Government launches the first round of its programme to address mobile black spots across the nation.

The Mobile Black Spot Programme is a $385 million project to deliver 499 new or upgraded mobile base stations over the next three years.

The Programme will improve coverage along major transport routes, in small communities and locations prone to natural disasters effects.

The Department of Communications and Telstra identified a hilltop in Laguna as one of the four sites across the Hunter that would house a new or upgraded mobile tower to deliver increased mobile coverage in and around Laguna and Wollombi Valley.

Council’s recently released flood study revealed loss of communications during and after April’s natural disaster was a significant factor affecting local businesses’ ability to trade.

Wollombi Valley Chamber of Commerce President Michael Noyce said the impact was felt particularly hard by businesses around Wollombi Valley, with more than 40% of those surveyed in the area reporting a loss of power and/or communications.

“Many accommodation businesses said the loss of communications meant they couldn’t contact guests to let them know roads were cut, or couldn’t be reached to take new bookings” Mr Noyce said.

“There were also reports of stranded guests being unable to call out to let loved ones know they were ok.”

Mr Noyce said businesses depended upon a reliable communications network to carry out day-to-day operations.

“These days people are reliant upon technology in many aspects of their personal and professional lives,” Mr Noyce said.

“Fast, effective and uninterrupted access to mobile networks has become a standard expectation and programmes that can deliver that to our region can only be positive for businesses and their customers.”

More about the Mobile Black Spot Programme
Round 1 mobile base station locations were announced on 25 June 2015 following a competitive selection process.  Funding for the program was raised jointly by federal, state and local governments, Telstra and Vodaphone, and community organisations.

Round 2 of the Programme will offer further opportunities to meet demand and provide coverage to more locations around regional and remote Australia.  The selection process for Round 2 locations will commence in 2016.

Visit the Department of Communications website to find out more about the Mobile Black Spot Programme.