MOBILE phone coverage in the bush is set for a major shake-up after Optus announced a $1 billion spend to boost reception.
The telco giant is looking to get a bigger share of the regional market with 500 new towers to be built outside of the major cities.
There will be 16 new sites built in the Tamworth region alone where Optus Chief Executive Officer, Allen Lew, made the announcement on Friday.
It’s also one of the biggest ever mobile infrastructure investments made by anyone in regional Australia, in the last few years.Optus CEO Allen Lew
“This is the biggest ever capital expenditure in regional Australia that Optus has made in its 25-year history,” he said.
“It’s also one of the biggest ever mobile infrastructure investments made by anyone in regional Australia, in the last few years.”
Mr Lew acknowledged Telstra was one of the biggest providers in regional Australia and said Optus’ investment would provide choice and competitive prices. He was unable to say how many jobs would be created in the region, but said their contractors would use local resources.
The region will grab a $4.5 million slice of the billion dollar coverage pie, with 16 new sites in Calala, Tamworth CBD, Piper St in East Tamworth, Emerald Hill, Carroll, Curlewis, Gunnedah, Oxley Vale, Attunga, Duri, Hallsville, Piallamore, Moonbi, Barraba, Bendemeer and Kingswood.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce applauded the telco for the regional spend-up and said farmers will be some of the biggest winners.
“Whether it’s phoning the neighbours, looking up cattle prices online, getting people out to do work, more connectivity means more opportunities for growth and development,” he said.
NSW Farmers Tamworth chair Kevin Tongue said “ag is getting more tech savvy and reliant on technology and needed technology to support it”.
"There is a lack of good coverage from carriers in country areas - anywhere you go away from the cities and regional cities really,” Mr Tongue said.