More than $170m to boost digital connectivity in regional areas

The Federal Government has announced a $170.2 million investment to boost digital connectivity for more than one hundred communities and locations across regional Australia, including a number of remote First Nations communities, as part of its Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) and Mobile Black Spot Program (MBSP).

Both programs have been designed to narrow the digital divide across rural communities, with investments targeted at improving mobile coverage issues, among other concerns.

The programs were funded as part of the October 2022 Budget, with the latest program round attracting $106.25 million in co-investment, delivering 136 projects across both streams.

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 awards $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.