Australian Regional Connectivity Program Update

Dozens of rural communities across the nation are to soon benefit from better broadband under the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP).

Regional Connectivity Program

The goal of the program is to target telecommunications infrastructure investment that will provide economic opportunities and improve participation in the digital economy for regional communities and businesses. Services to be delivered under the Regional Connectivity Program must be a demonstrable improvement over the existing telecommunications solutions in the relevant area.

“As the last year has shown, digital connectivity has become an essential part of how we work, learn, stay healthy and remain in contact with loved ones, and it is particularly critical to sustaining productivity growth and innovation in our regional communities,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack.

The 81 projects to score a guernsey range in value from $80,500 for targeted mobile capacity upgrades in small towns to $8.75 million for the rollout of large-scale fixed wireless broadband networks across entire regions. Fixed wireless done right is a robust connectivity technology that has proven itself in Australia and elsewhere.

While further details will be forthcoming over the next few weeks, among the areas to get fixed wireless networks will be New South Wales' Gundagai, Cootamundra and Snowy Valleys areas.

As we previously mentioned, in addition to the co-contribution aspect helping to ensure there won't be any fly-by-night operations, projects receiving funding are expected to provide retail services for a minimum period of 10 years after the project becomes operational.

Originally to be a $53 million program and developed as a government response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, the RCP funding figure has grown to $90 million along the way. Together with co-contributions from other parties, including the businesses involved and state governments, $180 million in new investment through improved connectivity will be delivered.

Among its findings, the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review committee noted "a significant disconnect" between what had been touted about the performance of NBN satellite and fixed wireless and what was actually being experienced by users of these services - many simply weren't getting what they were paying for.

Further information on the RCP can be found here.

Posted: 20 Apr 2021

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