Eight telcos to work together to share mobile tower access and coverage | Central Western Daily

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They can be seen on the street corners of our villages and standing beside their cars on the side of a country lane. With their phones in hand the visitors from the city are often left without a signal because their chosen telecommunication company’s infrastructure and subsequent coverage doesn’t extend much past the larger centres. As frustrating as that is it’s also inconvenient for locals who are often forced, through a lack of choice, to sign up with the one lone provider. Soon that will all be as antiquated as the telephone exchange system at the Millthorpe Golden Memories Museum where Deputy Premier Paul Toole announced Australia’s first trial of an active sharing partnership between eight of the nation’s leading telcos. “The one tower, one carrier model has created a patchwork across the regions, limiting coverage,” he said. “Rural and regional communities are forced to pay more for their mobile plans through a lack of choice.” Optus, Telstra, TPG Telecom, BAI Communications, Field Solutions Group, Infrastructure Logic, Nec and Pivotel Mobile will all participate in Stage One of the $50 million Mobile Coverage Project. Mobile telecommunications is usually a federal government responsibility, but Mr Toole said that customers don’t care which level of government establishes the sharing system. “Network sharing just makes sense,” he said. “It reduces the need for companies to build additional towers across the landscape, reduces the costs for providers and ensures everyone can access their mobile phone no matter which provider they choose.” The eight telcos will participate in a 14 week design phase and the successful participants will be invited to submit funding requests to roll out their network sharing solutions in the second half of 2022. The location of that solution is not yet determined. The concept of sharing towers and other infrastructure with their competitors may seem counter-productive, but the Field Solution Group’s Vin Mullins said that network sharing will benefit everyone. “I’ve been in the industry for over 25 years and when telecommunication companies want to work together we actually get on very well,” he said. The initial investment of $50 million will inform the delivery of an additional $250 million committed to regional mobile coverage under the Regional Digital Connectivity Program which itself is funded as part of the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy fund.

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