Major new investment to boost digital connectivity in regional Australia

Major new investment to boost digital connectivity in regional Australia

Dec 14, 2023

More than one hundred communities and locations across rural and regional Australia will benefit from significant communications upgrades made possible by $170.2 million in Commonwealth investment through the Albanese Government’s Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) and Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP).

These programs – funded in the October 2022 Budget – aim to narrow the digital divide in rural and regional communities, providing investment to improve mobile coverage issues, fund public Wi-Fi, and deliver fibre upgrades.

The latest program rounds attracted $106.25 million in co-investment to deliver 136 projects across both streams.

Importantly, this combined opportunity will deliver $54.8 million in funding for 44 projects for improved telecommunications services in First Nations communities.

These projects will support progress towards achieving Target 17 of the Closing the Gap initiative, which commits to First Nations people having equal levels of digital inclusion by 2026.

RCP Round 3 is awarding $115.23 million for 74 connectivity projects across Australia, through three separate funding streams:

  • $7.1 million for 7 projects that target First Nations communities in Central Australia;
  • $16. million for 6 projects that target First Nations communities across the rest of Australia; and
  • $91.7 million for 61 projects targeting connectivity across Australia including 12 projects in First Nations communities, valued at $17.6 million.

The overall MBSP Round 7 is awarding Telstra, OneWifi and Optus:

  • $41.3 million for 43 new mobile base stations across Australia; and
  • $13.6 million for 19 new mobile base stations specifically targeting First Nations communities.

These new mobile base stations will deliver new and improved mobile coverage to these communities and improve highway coverage. It will also fund 25 new OneWiFi neutral host base stations that support multi-carrier outcomes, with Optus confirmed to offer services from the base stations.

All successful applications were assessed and recommended for funding by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, in accordance with the Program Guidelines.

This funding was delivered as part of the Albanese Government’s $1.1 billion Better Connectivity Plan. The Plan commits $400 million to expand mobile coverage and improve communications resilience, and $200 million to fund place-based communications solutions through the RCP.

Full lists of funded projects under RCP Round 3 and MBSP Round 7 are available at www.infrastructure.gov.au/rcp and www.infrastructure.gov.au/mbsp.