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The Federal Government has announced that it has launched a pilot audit and initial tranche of data, as part of work to deliver on its election commitment to audit mobile coverage and capacity across Australia. 

The audit will help to better identify mobile coverage black spots and inform future co-investment with industry, while also assessing the accuracy of carrier coverage maps made available to the public. This data will also be considered in the context of the ongoing review of the Universal Service Obligation

Accenture has been contracted to deliver the project over the next three years until 30 June 2027.

The pilot audit will cover three roads and three locations in each state and territory. This is expected to be completed in the next three months, with initial results to be published at the end of May.

Identified locations for the pilot were chosen because of concerns about mobile coverage and performance, including a need to understand the impact of changing seasonal demands like tourism. The decision was informed through consultation with State and Territory Governments, and the First Nations Digital Inclusion Advisory Group.

After considering the results of the pilot audit, Accenture will commence the main audit by drive testing about 180,000km of regional and rural roads every year for three years.

Static devices will also be placed in up to 77 locations across all states and territories to conduct testing of those locations. The government expects to leverage some Australia Post assets as part of this testing.

The audit will measure coverage and performance across Optus, Telstra and TPG networks, and also cover 3G – while it is available – 4G and 5G services.

The drive testing and static testing data will be complemented by additional crowd-sourced data, published every quarter. This initial tranche of data contains details of existing crowd-sourced data collected between December 2023 and February 2024.

Crowd-sourced data is gathered when people use certain apps on their mobile phones. The data can provide information on mobile coverage and network performance – and importantly – reflects coverage where people actually use their mobiles.

Federal Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, said that access to reliable mobile coverage is critical in 2024.

“A national audit of mobile coverage is critical to identifying Australia’s coverage gaps, and highlighting where industry maps might not reflect the experience of Australians on the ground,” Ms Rowland said. 

“This audit will allow the government and industry to make better investment decisions that will actually make a difference for locals, motorists and small businesses in areas of patchy coverage.

“I look forward to the completion of this audit over the next three years, including the publication of crowd-sourced data every quarter, to help us deliver better mobile coverage right around Australia.”

Image: Steve Tritton/shuttertock.com

©2024 Utility Magazine. All rights reserved

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