Telstra who wants to take all of the $100M being dished out by the Federal Government for upgrades to mobile phone networks in the bush is set to face a fight for the funds from Vodafone and Optus.
The Australian newspaper said that in a submission prepared for a government discussion paper on the funding program, Vodafone said it makes no sense to duplicate mobile infrastructure in rural and regional Australia where sparse populations make it difficult for mobile operators to make returns on big infrastructure investments.
The Federal Government is proposing $80m for a network expansion program to improve mobile phone coverage along major transport routes and $20m is being offered to patch so-called mobile “black spots” where phone reception is so bad that calls cannot be made or received.
Sources have indicated that Telstra is lobbying for the entire funding to be handed to it, but Vodafone and Optus want the funding to be shared through a co-investment model that would allow all players to share access and the cost of the infrastructure.
“The reality is that in many places it does not make sense to duplicate mobile infrastructure and we need to explore better ways to promote industry cooperation and investment,” said Vodafone public policy head Matthew Lobb.
“Telstra shouldn’t be afraid of real competition in regional Australia. As an industry, we need to collaborate to ensure we maximise mobile coverage and choice for regional Australians who desperately need it.”