The rural village of Wantabadgery in the New South Wales Riverina region is best known for its Angus cattle grazing pastures, but it’s also the home to our 550th mobile base station delivered under the Mobile Black Spot Program.

Wantabadgery is a village community of around 300, situated about 30 kilometres southeast of Junee and 35 kilometres east of the regional centre of Wagga Wagga. Since we switched on the Wantabadgery mobile base station, locals have embraced the new coverage and have already downloaded more than 4500 gigabytes of data – equivalent to about 1500 HD movies.

Mobile coverage brings with it all the modern conveniences of data for social media, email on the go, and the convenience of making a call or sending a message from wherever you are – rather than having to duck inside to use a landline. It is more than just sharing photos and Facebook updates, though; mobile coverage helps storefronts accept credit card payments and tradies manage their businesses from wherever they are, and it is increasingly becoming an economic necessity.

Our work in partnership with successive Federal Governments to build mobile base stations and small cells under the Mobile Black Spot Program has now delivered its milestone 550th site, and we are well on our way towards the more than 650 sites and $260 million total investment we have committed to the Program since its inception in 2015.

Over the five years to June 2019, our total mobile network investment will total about $8 billion, of which almost $3 billion will have been invested in regional areas. Our nationwide mobile network is supported by more than 10,000 mobile sites covering more than 2.5 million square kilometres, reaching 99.5 per cent of the Australian population.

The Riverina region of NSW is responsible for more than a quarter of the state’s fruit and vegetables, and up to 90 per cent of citrus, wine and grape production. Bringing comprehensive coverage to the agriculture industry is central to our plan with the National Farmers Federation to help unlock digital opportunities for Australia’s farmers.

We see a future for Australia’s agriculture where technologies like 5G and IoT allow farmers to adopt smart, low-power sensors like moisture monitors and ingestible health trackers for livestock to manage their crops and herds more effectively. Improving coverage in mobile black spot areas like Wantabadgery allows these innovations to take place and gives our farmers and rural communities an equal footing in our increasingly connected world.