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The Regional Connectivity Program is part of the Government’s $220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package. It was announced in the Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

The Regional Connectivity Program will complement the NBN, the Mobile Black Spot Program and commercial investment plans of telco providers. The $60 million funding of the Regional Connectivity Program includes:

  • A competitive grants program
  • A digital technology hub
  • Alternative voice service trials in remote areas
  • Further development of the Universal Service Guarantee

The Department of Communications and the Arts is consulting on the application framework for grants to build communications infrastructure in rural, regional and remote communities.

This consultation focused on the design of the competitive grants program.

ACCAN wrote a submission supporting the Department’s approach and made a number of additional suggestions in order to ensure the program provides money to the communities that most need it.

The Department proposed the following key design principles:

  • Funding applicants to include licensed telecommunications carriers
  • Funding applications to include evidence that the project is a priority for the local area
  • Financial co-contributions of 50% of capital costs will be required and all operational expenses
  • Funding applicants must demonstrate that the Proposed Solutions are not currently or foreseeably being provided in the area
  • Retail services will need to be provided for a minimum of 10 years after Asset Completion

 

ACCAN agreed with the design principles with the following additions:

  • Parties other than telecommunications companies should be allowed to lead bids. We encourage the Department to work collaboratively with local communities to identify needs and fund facilitators to assist communities prepare bids.
  • There should be some flexibility regarding the total contribution from Government, particularly where the need is high and total investment low. Also that in-kind contributions are considered.
  • We also propose that services meet a minimum requirement of 25/5 Mbps and that providers include the proposed retail price of the service.

 

Download: docxACCAN submission to DoCA Regional Connectivity Program807.42 KB

Download: pdfACCAN submission to DoCA Regional Connectivity Program509.99 KB