The Northern Territory Government says a project extending a network of free Wi-Fi internet services for remote Territorians has been hugely popular.
Part of the 2018-19 Digital Territory Action Plan, the project extended the existing network of 34 sites to 46 and upgraded all sites to fast broadband connections. The rollout was completed in May this year, and over the 2018-19 period community internet services were used 485,440 times – more than twenty times the 2016-17 figure.
The project was delivered by Library & Archives NT. While free access to the internet is offered in public libraries across Australia, many remote communities don’t have a library and have been missing out on this valuable service.
“Improved availability of digital technology in the bush helps community residents to access digital services, use social media and transact online,” said Minister for Corporate and Information Services, Lauren Moss. “The uptake in free Wi-Fi usage in remote communities shows just how important access to digital technology is for Territorians and to help overcome our great distances and isolation.”
Digital Territory Strategy A Huge Undertaking
There’s still much to be done under NT’s Digital Territory Strategy, including the installation and commissioning of an undersea fibre optic cable that will connect the Tiwi Islands to the national telecommunications network, a project that was announced in 2018. Its completion may not be far off, with works previously expected to be finished by the end of 2019.
Other elements of the Digital Territory Strategy at various stages include:
- Making digital delivery the primary approach for government services, which is intended to simplify and reduce the costs of providing services.
- Advancing telehealth and telemedicine in the delivery of health care services.
- Ensuring NT residents have the skills and knowledge to use digital services safely and effectively.
- More mobile phone hotspots, which are being installed during 2019-20 under a grant from the NT Government.
- Expanding remote connectivity to improve access to education and other services for children in remote areas.
- Improving the BushTel application, which is a government web service providing information on remote NT communities.
- A co-investment program investing $24 million over four years to expand telecommunications services to more remote communities in the NT
“Connecting Territory communities is a key direction in the Territory Labor Government’s first ever Digital Territory Strategy, to ensure reliable and sustainable internet access to remote communities across the Territory,” said Minister Moss.
More on the Digital Territory Strategy can be found here.