Vic Govt to fix mobile blackspots on regional trains

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Passengers on Victoria’s five busiest regional rail lines will experience better mobile coverage before the end of the year, according to the state government.

Labelled the Regional Rail Connectivity Project (RRCP), the move from the Victorian Government will reportedly cost $18 million and will affect the Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon and Seymour rail lines.

RRCP will see the V-Line’s entire fleet of ‘Vlocity’ trains fitted with mobile signal repeaters, which are claimed to help boost signal along the lines. Repeaters like this for home use are highly illegal but are permissible in applications such as this.

In partnership with Telstra, Vodafone and Optus, 35 new mobile towers are being constructed along the train lines to increase coverage alongside the signal boosters.

Construction began in late 2017, but only recently has the state government announced that it will be completed before the end of the year.

“Better mobile coverage on these rail lines is part of our effort to connect regional Victoria and remove the digital divide between those living in Melbourne and those living in our regions,” said Jaala Pulford, the Minister for Regional Development.

Canstar Blue recently revealed that more than 50 blackspots exist in Victoria among the three mobile networks, with the bulk in regional areas outside of Melbourne.

The RRCP project is one of four infrastructure projects focused on digital connectivity in regional areas of Victoria. These four projects are reported to cost upwards of $112 million and will provide free public Wi-Fi, improved digital connectivity in regional schools and more.

Mobile coverage still a problem in regional Australia

The three networks in Australia – Vodafone, Telstra and Optus – are all addressing mobile blackspots across the country as part of a $220 million Federal Government project.

The infrastructure project will primarily address mobile blackspots through Australia’s major transport corridors – from Brisbane through Sydney and down to Melbourne. The project is due to be completed in 2019, with the second half of 2018 likely seeing the bulk of the infrastructure completed.

In New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland there are more than 150 coverage blackspots across the three networks, while there are more than 50 across other states and territories. There are reportedly no mobile blackspots in the Australian Capital Territory.

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