Saturday, 22 February 2020 01:55

Government begins public consultation on regional connectivity guidelines

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The Australian Government has commenced the next stage of consultation on the $53 million Regional Connectivity Program aimed at improving digital connectivity in regional and rural Australia.

Draft program guidelines were released on Friday by the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, and the Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, Mark Coulton for a final period of public consultation.

Consultation is open for three weeks until Friday, 13 March 2020 and submissions can be made through the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications’ website.

The Regional Connectivity Program is part of the $220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package, announced in the Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, and the program will provide competitive grants allowing investment in projects that improve internet accessibility in regional, rural and remote communities.

“We recognise that access to telecommunications services are vital for people living in the bush and that different communities have varying needs. The Regional Connectivity Program prioritises bespoke solutions rather than a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The program aims to complement the National Broadband Network (NBN) with tailored mobile and broadband services to support local agriculture, tourism and resources sectors, and help address health and educational priorities.”

Minister Coulton said it is important that all views are heard in the design of the final program guidelines, including from communities, all levels of government, consumer groups and telcos.

“People living and working in our regions need access to fast and reliable telecommunications to go about almost every aspect of their lives. I encourage everyone who is interested, to have their say on the guidelines,” Minister Coulton said.

“The Regional Connectivity Program will make it easier for people in remote areas to communicate and help to address the tyranny of distance for businesses, so it’s important we receive a range of feedback to get this program right.”

The Government is also launching an online noticeboard which it says will help foster links between communities and telecommunications providers, and help develop potential Regional Connectivity program projects.

Projects can now be registered on the noticeboard, with State, Territory and Local Governments, regional development authorities, industry, business and community groups, not-for-profits and First Nations community-controlled organisations invited to register their potential telecommunications project on the noticeboard.

The Government is also launching an online noticeboard to help foster links between communities and telecommunications providers to help develop potential Regional Connectivity Program projects.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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