Improved coverage a must

Better coverage: Nationals leader David Littleproud wants to see improvement in telecommunication service in remote areas. photograph supplied

Staff Writers

NATIONALS leader, David Littleproud, is calling for government intervention to ensure Australians in regional and remote areas have adequate mobile coverage.

Mr Littleproud said extending and reforming the Universal Service Guarantee (USG) to mobile phones from landlines and introducing mandated mobile roaming in 2023 was essential to grow the regions and protect lives.

“In 2023, communication has never been more important,” Mr Littleproud said.

“It’s critical as a safety and emergency response, enabling better commerce, business and social interaction in areas of limited network coverage.”

Mr Littleproud said he supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) recent decision to rule out a 10-year mobile infrastructure sharing deal with Telstra and TPG Telecom because more than 700 towers would have been lost.

Mandating roaming in regional and remote areas, however, would share all the towers between all the telcos, which in turn, would maintain and improve coverage and competition.

Mr Littleproud said the former Coalition Government funded more than 1200 new or upgraded mobile base stations under their Mobile Phone Black Spot Program and there now needs to be regulatory guidelines to make sure they could be used by all Australians, no matter what telco they were with.

Mr Littleproud said if mandated domestic roaming in rural areas was introduced in concert with reforms to the USG that extended to mobile service and removed the averaging provisions that currently allows Telstra – the recipient of the $270 million in USG funding – to have landline customers without phones for months, then services would improve.

“The USG isn’t working and needs reform, which was highlighted in the Regional Telecommunications Review handed down just before the federal election, yet the new government has made no commitment to implementing its recommendations.

“Telcos should also be forced to maintain mobile towers, not just landlines. Unfortunately, the October 2022 Budget also revealed cuts to regional telecommunications despite the urgent need for improvements.”

The former Coalition Government directed an ACCC inquiry into mobile roaming, to focus on the costs and access to telecommunications towers and facilities. Mr Littleproud encouraged those living in rural and remote locations to complete the online survey.

“I’m urging our regional communities to provide input into the consultation process, open until February and prior to the publication of the Regional Mobile Infrastructure Inquiry draft report in April, 2023.”

The survey can be accessed and completed at