We’ve rolled out 50,000km2 worth of mobile coverage to 100 rural and regional locations, and more is on the way.

By any measure, 50,000 square kilometres is a big area. To put it in perspective, that’s bigger than Switzerland, Denmark or Costa Rica.

It’s also the amount of new or improved mobile coverage that Telstra has rolled out to rural and regional Australia under the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP), and it’s about to grow rapidly.

I’m pleased to report we’ve delivered this new coverage by reaching a significant mobile black spot milestone – 100 new mobile base stations across the nation are now online, delivering state-of-the-art coverage to communities that previously had none.

For the first time, thousands of people living, working and travelling in these areas can now talk with family, friends and run their businesses more effectively through Telstra’s superfast mobile network.

Our 100th mobile black spot base station is in Culla, in Victoria’s Southern Grampians, and it’s an excellent case study of the success and importance of the MBSP.

With eight mobile base stations progressively coming online in the region, a vast area with previously little to no mobile coverage is gaining increased access to new technologies for key regional sectors like agriculture, which is increasingly taking advantage of fast, reliable and affordable mobile connectivity.

Culla sheep and cattle famer Anthony Close is already making great use of the new opportunities. It’s lambing season and he’s now using the new, fast mobile coverage to compile valuable data, like lamb weights, from the field. Then, after a long day, he kicks back and watches Netflix.

We have activated an additional 34 of up to 250 innovative 4G data-only small cells to a number of other communities to ensure more of rural and regional Australia has access to fast connectivity.

We’re also speeding up our rollout even further and expect to have more than 200 sites online before the end of the year. Locations announced by the Federal Government under Round Two are now also being integrated into our rollout schedule.

As the carrier with the nation’s largest mobile footprint and the first to bring 4G mobile services to rural and regional Australia, we know that increased coverage is the number one priority for people and businesses in these remote areas.

We’re building a total of 577 new mobile base stations across rural and regional Australia under Rounds One and Two of the MBSP. That’s more than $486 million worth of co-investment in country Australia with Telstra joining with the Federal and State Governments as well as numerous local councils.

The success of the MBSP demonstrates that the current regulatory settings combined with public and private co-investment is the most effective way to expand mobile coverage in the bush.

It’s encouraging providers to build mobile infrastructure in remote parts of Australia that all carriers can use to provide services to their customers if they choose to invest.

That is a great outcome for people living and working in these communities and this is why the ACCC has received an unprecedented amount of feedback from regional Australians, including the Country Women’s Association, Isolated Children’s Parents’ Association, farming groups and local councils across the nation. The overwhelming majority said regulated roaming was not worth the risk to investment.

* The Telstra Mobile Network offers 4G in all capital CBDs and associated airports, most surrounding suburban areas and in over 600 regional towns. You’ll automatically switch to our fastest available 3G in other coverage areas around Australia. Check coverage at telstra.com/coverage.