Rural Queensland lacks adequate mobile coverage.
A survey of AgForce members indicated that only 11% of respondents had more than 50% coverage of their property.
To maximise rural productivity, safety and community vitality, mobile coverage must continually be improved.
Mobile phones are no longer just used for phone calls. The use of essential apps like COVIDSafe have also proven that a lack of reliable coverage creates practical problems for those living in the bush – problems that can be life-threatening.
Queensland is one of the most decentralised states in Australia and the economically viable, private-sector-led investments in telecommunications infrastructure have largely been made. Yet still many people in Queensland have little or no mobile coverage.
With so much emphasis being placed on internet connectivity in recent years, and with the advent of the NBN, many people forget that mobile coverage for many in the bush is not yet a reality.
For productivity, safety and rural liveability, mobile coverage must continue to improve across the hardest to reach areas.
Queenslanders will have the confidence of greater mobile coverage which will improve their safety, productivity and connectedness.
Telecommunication providers will continue to invest in new infrastructure, better connecting Queenslanders where they live and work.
Cost-effective and innovative solutions will be developed for those areas that will never be covered under the MBSP.
The Commonwealth Government’s Mobile Black Spots Program (MBSP) has enabled the private sector to provide telecommunications services to marginal areas and has leveraged private and state government co-investment.
Co-investment is required to ensure the MBSP reaches as many people as possible.
Further, the program in its current form will not solve mobile coverage for all Queenslanders and therefore other options need to be explored.
Queensland-specific, innovative, placed-based solutions are required to complement the MBSP and ensure a pipeline of ongoing investment dedicated to improving mobile coverage in hard to reach areas.
We must invest in innovative solutions to solving these issues in a cost-effective way and harness the power of all telecommunications providers.