Applications are now open for funding for the Regional Connectivity Program

The government has launched the second cycle of a program to further strengthen digital connectivity in regional and remote Australia.

Regional Communications Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie has released the second round guidelines for the success of the regional connectivity program, which call for nominations from the telecommunications industry, regional communities and development organizations, as well as state, territory and local governments.

“I encourage local communities to work with telecommunications providers to submit strong applications for funding of up to $ 112 million that will improve Internet accessibility in regional, rural and remote communities,” McKenzie said.

“As part of our government’s broader regionalization agenda, we want people living in rural and regional parts of Australia, including Northern Australia, to have access to telecommunications which are taken for granted. in the big cities.

“Connectivity helps regional businesses grow, creates jobs and helps people in the Australian region work remotely, and it dissolves distance.

“Regional connectivity makes a real difference on the ground – by creating opportunities and encouraging local communities to work together.

“The three pillars of our regionalization policy are economic security, equity and growth and connectivity is a key element of each pillar.

“Following the first round oversubscription, the government is now calling for applications for the second round of the program, which will pursue a unique approach to investing in telecommunications recognizing the distinct digital needs of our regions.

“The first round provided funding for new and improved mobile voice and data coverage, fixed wireless and fiber broadband service, and improved link capacity to many locations across regional Australia as well as Project East Arnhem which will bring improvements to the telecommunications network between Darwin and Nhulunbuy.

“In addition, Australian Private Networks received $ 0.66 million to deploy a fully satellite-managed Wi-Fi and VoIP public telephone solution in the community of Kalumburu in Western Australia. “

Northern Australia Minister David Littleproud said the program provides a great opportunity for communities across Northern Australia to improve their digital connectivity.

“The second round includes dedicated funding provided to the program through the Connecting Northern Australia initiative. This targeted funding will support projects that meet the specific connectivity needs of rural and remote northern communities, which is essential for doing business and driving economic growth, ”said Littleproud.

“This is an opportunity to make much-needed improvements to the telecommunications infrastructure in Northern Australia, and I encourage communities, governments and telecommunications providers to work together on proposals that will achieve these results. “

McKenzie said the Liberal and National government have also provided an online project notice board to facilitate links between regional communities and the telecommunications industry.

“Collaboration is essential to ensure that the communication needs of people living in the Australian region and the north are properly understood and met. I encourage all interested parties to use the Project Notice Board to share their resources and expertise on projects that improve connectivity to regional communities, ”said McKenzie.

The Liberal and National government said they have invested around $ 229 million in the program, committing $ 117.4 million in Round 1 to complete more than 130 projects and up to $ 112 million in Round 2, which includes approximately $ 45 million in dedicated funding for northern Australia.

Compete President Michelle Lim said: “Compete strongly supports the targeted use of government funding to support the expansion of alternative telecommunications infrastructure and improve the quality and choice of services across regional, rural Australia. and remote.

“All Australians deserve better value, flexibility and choice in their telecommunications products and services. This is often not available in regional and rural Australia today. The Round 2 Regional Connectivity Program is an initiative well positioned to deliver real competitive results and be able to change the status quo. This program offers the opportunity to mark a milestone, promote more open and competitive markets, offer greater choice to consumers and businesses and fundamentally change the long-term digital future of underserved areas in Australia.

“It will also help ‘bridge the digital divide’ between metropolitan cities and our regional and rural communities. It’s a step in the right direction to facilitate connectivity and new digital services no matter where you live, work or play.

Interested parties have until January 27, 2022 to submit their applications to the competitive evaluation process. To apply and for more information, visit the Department’s webpage here. Potential projects can be found and registered on the program notice board here.

This first appeared in the CommsWire subscription newsletter on December 3, 2021.


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