We’re serious about delivering more mobile coverage for regional Australia. But regulated roaming that would let others piggyback on our network puts investment at risk.

Telstra has always been dedicated to connecting people in regional Australia. We’ve been at it since the days of the telegraph and the manual phone exchange, but we know that in the age of the smartphone connectivity is more important than ever.

That’s why for more than a decade we have worked to bring people in regional Australia the same world-leading services people in major cities enjoy.

To do this we have directed an average of 15% of the investments we make in our mobile network towards building infrastructure that delivers services to the most remote 2% of Australia’s population. Because of this dedication to regional Australia, Telstra’s network now covers over 2.4 million sq kms.

Today we announced our commitment to continuing this work. Over the next 4 – 5 years Telstra will invest $350 million in new technology and regional base stations, $240 million to continue our work on the first two rounds of the successful Mobile Black Spot Programme, and a further $100-$200 million set aside for new regional co-investments.

With the co-investments, this could represent a $1 billion boost to regional, rural and remote mobile coverage.

To put this into perspective, that’s more than the Australian Government will spend on the Northern Australia Roads Package or the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

Thanks to the Mobile Black Spot Programme’s co-investment, thousands of Australians that previously had little to no reception can now access Telstra’s 4G network and connect with family and friends, watch video on the go, and run their businesses more effectively. We’ve already delivered more than 20,000 square kilometres of new and improved mobile coverage. Just last month our CEO Andy Penn joined the Federal MP for Indi, Cathy McGowan, to launch the first of more than 20 mobile base stations to be constructed in North East Victoria under the Programme.

Our work with the Barcoo and Diamantina Shires, the Queensland Government and the Federal Government to deliver a fibre link and new mobile bases to Birdsville, Jundah, Stonehenge, Windorah, Bedourie as well as joint funding to deliver fibre and mobile services Aurukun are  just some examples where we can do more for you by working with government.

These projects make a real difference to peoples’ lives. When construction is completed in May next year these local communities, their councils, businesses, schools, police and health services will have access to same, if not better, internet speeds as people in the city. That unlocks new job opportunities, better ways to get medical attention, and new types of learning.

If Australia ends up with regulated mobile roaming, the real losers will be regional communities who want more coverage.

That’s because forcing Telstra to allow other companies – who have decided not to invest over a number of years to deliver more coverage to their customers – to piggyback on our network infrastructure and spectrum undermines the business case for all these investments. We don’t want that to happen and we don’t believe regional communities do either.