The Australian government says it’s giving Telstra, Optus and TPG Telecom (the owners of Vodafone Australia) $10.9 million to help bolster the resilience of telco mobile network sites across Australia against natural disasters.
As a part of the federal government’s Mobile Network Hardening Program (MNHP), mobile network sites on all three networks are set to be upgraded in bushfire and natural disaster-prone areas. The program seeks to strengthen the sites against outages if a natural disaster occurs.
The announcement comes as parts of the east coast of Australia are undergoing massive floods. As we reported last week, swathes of the east coast mobile networks and parts of the NBN network went offline due to the flooding.
Moreover, during the 2019-2020 bushfires, it was found that most network outages were caused by power failure.
This funding seeks to combat natural disasters in Australia by strengthening the mobile network sites belonging to our big three telcos.
For context, this is the second stage of the program. In stage one, $13.2 million was given to the big three network operators to upgrade battery backup power to at least 12 hours of grid downtime at 467 macrocell base stations.
The Mobile Network Hardening Program is now onto stage two. By keeping mobile networks online in the areas affected by natural disasters, people will be able to access necessary websites, information and call people with less worry about service disruptions during natural disasters.
As a part of this funding, Australia’s network operators are said to deploy 220 new generators, 47 battery capacity upgrades, 212 battery extension devices (which “enhance” existing capacity), make transmission resilience upgrades at 25 mobile network clusters (comprised of 320 base stations) and structural upgrades at 40 sites against bushfire damage.
“The MNHP demonstrates our government’s ongoing commitment to improving mobile network resilience and preparedness so communities can better deal with future emergencies and natural disasters,” says the federal Minister for Regional Communications and Minister for Emergency Management, National Recovery and Resilience, Senator Bridget Mckenzie.
“Mobile phones are increasingly important for people in regional and remote communities to stay in contact with friends and loved ones and to access critical supports both during and after natural disasters such as bushfires and floods.
“While these upgrades will provide a significant boost locally, it’s also important to remind people of the need to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters which can occur at any time. I would encourage people to ensure they are prepared, including having plans in the event of power and other service outages.”
These upgrades are said to begin shortly. You can find every site receiving upgrades here.