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Australian telecom operator Optus announced a further $17.5 million commitment to improve 4G mobile coverage in the Australian island state of Tasmania. The investment will deliver improved call quality and faster download speeds for mobile customers in and around the capital Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Tasmania’s east coast.

“Optus is boosting our investment in our Tasmanian network because we recognize the importance of reliable mobile coverage to our customers and the importance of connectivity to the state’s economy,” said Optus Vice President of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Andrew Sheridan.

“In the next two years Optus will spend over $17.5 million building 35 mobile sites throughout Tasmania. This investment adds to the $5 million we have spent building ten new sites and $7 million spent upgrading 36 sites to 4G in the past year. Our investment will provide Tasmanians and the state’s 1.26 million annual visitors with more choice and better Optus mobile coverage, call quality and download speeds.”

Optus’ commitment to Tasmania includes new sites in Cradoc and Cradle Mountain to be built over the next two years. Earlier this year Optus announced a separate $6 million commitment to build 12 new sites around the state in the next two years.

The Optus standalone investment is in addition to the launch of Optus’ first Tasmanian site from the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, an initiative to improve and extend mobile phone coverage in regional and remote Australia. Located in Strathgordon, the site utilizes satellite small cell technology, which provides a flexible alternative to traditional mobile towers with the combined benefits of expanding mobile 3G coverage in a concentrated local area in remote and previously un-serviced locations.

The Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, welcomed Optus’ investment, and in relation to the Mobile Black Spot Program sites, stated: “In total, Rounds 1 and 2 of the Coalition’s Program will deliver new coverage to 32,000 homes and businesses across 86,000 square kilometres including 7,600 of major transport routes via 765 new mobile phone towers,” Minister Nash said.

“I aim to help build the kinds of communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to, and better mobile phone coverage is a big part of that,” the Minister added.

Optus’ 4G Plus network now reaches 96.1 percent of Australians. The Optus network handles over 45 million calls and 80 million SMS messages each day and carries 6,000 terabytes of data each week.