Australia offers second round of subsidies for rural connectivity

Australia offers second round of subsidies for rural connectivity

Bridget McKenzie Australia copy.jpg

The Australian federal government is allocating almost US$79 million to boosting digital connectivity in rural and remote areas of the country.

Bridget McKenzie (pictured), minister for regional communications, has called for applications from the telecommunications industry, regional communities and development organisations, as well as state, territory and local governments.

The sum available is up to A$112 million (US$78.80 million), she said.

“I encourage local communities to work together with telecommunication providers to submit strong applications,” she said. “As part of our government’s wider regionalisation agenda we want to see people living in rural and regional Australia including Northern Australia have the access to telecommunications that is taken for granted in the large cities.”

This is the second round of the country’s regional connectivity programme funding. McKenzie said it “will continue a unique approach to telecommunications investment recognising the distinct digital needs of our regions”.

Round one provided funding for new and improved mobile voice and data coverage, fixed wireless and fibre broadband service, and improved backhaul capacity to many locations. Round one was worth A$117.4 million (US$82.5 million).

As part of that stage, the government awarded A$660,000 to Australian Private Networks, which trades as Activ8me, to deploy public satellite Wifi and VoIP telephone services to the community of Kalumburu in Western Australia.

“The three pillars of our regionalisation policy are economic security, equity and growth and connectivity is a key component of each pillar,” said McKenzie.

She said interested parties have until 27 January 2022 submit applications to the competitive assessment process.

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