$160M more goes into mobile blackspot program

Regional connectivity program gets $60 million boost

The Government's Mobile Blackspot Program will get an extra $160 million funding that will be divided in two equal funding rounds.

“Rounds 5 and 6 will have a strong focus on improving mobile coverage in our regions at Public Interest Premises which benefit the community such as medical facilities, schools and economic centres," said minister for regional services Bridget McKenzie.

McKenzie said that with government agencies moving more and more services online and growth in demand for data, further investment was necessary.

"The Mobile Black Spot Program is connecting our communities to online services, reducing the tyranny of distance for our businesses and helping people communicate when travelling in remote areas," she said.

"Fast and reliable connectivity is essential to ensure regional areas remain competitive with access to the same business and study opportunities as the rest of Australia. We’re ensuring our regions are not left behind."

The announcement was made two days after providers for round four of the program were announced, with Optus and Telstra being selected to deliver 180 news base stations.

Since the program started 682 bases have been switched on, from a total of 1,047 expected so far. The base stations under the first three rounds are expected to be operational by 30 June 2019.

There is also $60 million being allocated into a new Regional Connectivity Program and the promise of a digital tech hub to improve digital literacy.

In December, the Department of Communications and the Arts published the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review – Getting it right out there, which contained recommendations focused on improved access to telecommunications infrastructure, modern and appropriate consumer protections and digital inclusion.

Specifically, McKenzie pointed out that those included recommendations to improve the experience of the National Broadband Network (NBN) for Australians in regional, rural and remote areas stating the Government is working closely with NBN Co on these recommendations.

Updated to correct funding figure.

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