Victoria’s Andrews Government announced on Tuesday what it says is the biggest boost to the state’s digital infrastructure and skills ever as part of the Victorian Budget 2020/21.
Image: Victorian Government
A $626 million investment will include $250 million to support co-funded business-grade broadband connectivity for Victorian suburbs and regional towns . This will be executed via the Gigabit State program to be carried out in conjunction with industry partners. As well as providing all the benefits accompanying fast internet connectivity, it’s expected construction and operation of the new broadband infrastructure will support around 2,000 jobs.
The announcement says Gigabit State will tackle gaps in the availability of reliable high-speed fibre optic and wireless broadband services for business users, and includes upgrades in regional towns with satellite and fixed wireless services.
But even within metropolitan Melbourne internet “black spots” exist where connectivity is sub-par for business users. For example, back in 2017 Lightning Broadband executed a project in Richmond that brought fast internet to businesses battling poor connectivity.
While on the topic of black spots, a six-year, $300 million program to eradicate mobile black spots in populated areas of regional Victoria was also announced. However, this investment is contingent on co‑contribution from the Commonwealth Government.
Other funding has been earmarked for a variety of digital technology related initiatives, including:
- $12 million to establish a flagship digital hub in Cremorne.
- $64 million Digital Skills and Jobs program to fund short courses for those who lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $10.3 million for the Victorian Innovation and Digital Jobs program.
“The pandemic has changed the way we work and the way we live, with more of our day-to-day lives happening online,” said Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford. ” This Budget will help us use and embrace new technology – and make it one of Victoria’s strengths.”
In his Treasurer’s Speech, Tim Pallas said:
“Flexible working has opened up new jobs that we now know can be performed from anywhere across the State. That’s why we’re making the internet better across Victoria, with more than half a billion dollars to remove black spots and roll out business grade broadband, smoothing the way for local businesses and communities.”