Battery upgrade for old mobile phone black spot site
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the Government’s announcement to install 12-hour batteries at Parawa and Kanmantoo, two of the three mobile phone sites promised to Mayo under the first two rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP).
“I am advised that the third MBSP site at Stokes Bay is a satellite small cell and already has extended battery backup and the Kanmantoo base station has only recently been built and was required to have at least 12-hours battery back-up anyway. Kanmantoo is a replacement for the Montacute mobile phone tower promised in Round 1 but abandoned due to a protracted legal dispute,” Rebekha said.
“However, it is really positive to see the Government providing funding to retro-fit longer lasting batteries in towers built in the early days of the program before I was elected to Federal Parliament.
“Having sufficient battery back-up at our mobile phone towers is a critical issue for residents living in high-risk bushfire zones, notwithstanding that recent experience has demonstrated that fire can destroy critical infrastructure and cause the wider mobile network to fail.
“Having access to communication channels is why I introduced a Private Member’s Bill back in 2017, and again in 2018, to require telecommunication carriers to provide 24-hour stand-by power capability for mobile phone towers that operate in high-risk bushfire communities.
“I am advised by telecommunications companies that following my advocacy with the Government on my Telecommunication Amendment (Guaranteeing Mobile Phone Service in Bushfire Zones) Bill 2017, all successful MBSP applications from Round 3 onwards were required to have at least 12-hours battery back-up and that the major telcos now have programs to upgrade batteries in mobile phone stations in high risk disaster zones.
“This is sensible policy but more needs to be done, as stated the recently released Bushfire Royal Commission report.
“The Royal Commission report recommended a Public Safety Mobile Broadband capability for emergency services but only noted that the Government had allocated $37 million towards enhancing telecommunication resilience and that telcos now had guidelines to improve the resilience of their mobile sites.”
Funding for the battery upgrades was announced this week and is part of the $650 million bushfire recovery relief package unveiled by the Government in May.
A total of $13.2 million has been provided to Telstra, Optus and TPG to replace batteries at 467 mobile phone towers across Australia.
In the past five rounds of the MBSP, Mayo has secured a mobile base station at Kuitpo between Meadows and Willunga (under construction by Optus); an Optus satellite small cell at Stokes Bay (in-service); an Optus macrocell at Parawa (in-service); an Optus macrocell for the eastern side of Kangaroo Island (scheduled to be built in 2020); a Telstra base station at Ashbourne (in-service), a Telstra base station at Gosse/Stokes Bay (in-service); a Telstra base station on Long Valley Road between Wistow and Strathalbyn (scheduled to be built in 2020); and a base station in Kanmantoo (a replacement site for Montacute which is expected to be built in 2020).
Applications for Round 5A of the MBSP are now open. A total of $34.5 million is available to Mobile Network Operators and Mobile Network Infrastructure Providers to make applications for sites that either improve mobile connectivity along major transport corridors and in disaster-prone regions or test new technologies that support shared mobile coverage in regional areas.