Liberal and Nationals Government responds to 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review with $1.3 billion investment

The Liberal and Nationals Government firmly believe that all Australians deserve access to fast and reliable telecommunications services, regardless of where they live.

A $1.3 billion investment to further upgrade telecommunications in our regional, rural, remote and peri urban communities across the nation is the cornerstone of the Liberal and Nationals Government’s response to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review. The response was tabled in Parliament today.

Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, said the Review found regional Australia is facing a step change in its reliance on digital connectivity and data, and in response the Liberal and Nationals Government is now providing funding and policy in order to address the recommendations in the report, to assist our regional communities.

“Regional Australia has always been integral to the success of our nation, and it continues to be a key pillar for Australia’s growth and security into the future. For our regions to reach their true potential, they need to be empowered to flourish economically and socially, and digital connectivity infrastructure is essential in order to realise this ambition,” Minister McKenzie said.

“Last night in his Budget speech the Treasurer announced the centrepiece of our response, a new $811.8 million initiative - Connecting Regional Australia.

“Connecting Regional Australia is a large-scale, flexible, multi-year fund that enables strategic investment in digital infrastructure and skills, aligned with the Review’s recommendations and our country’s needs. It not only builds on, but greatly expands on our highly successful Mobile Black Spot and the Regional Connectivity Programs.

“This initiative will expand upon our open access mobile coverage, target specific and localised needs, enhance resilience, trial emerging technologies, boost Indigenous connectivity and foster affordability, as well as improve community digital awareness, including in Northern Australia and peri-urban areas.

“A key objective is an estimated 8,000 km of new open access mobile coverage delivered to transport routes, adjacent homes, businesses and tourist hotspots,” Minister McKenzie said.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said the second key part of the response is a grant of $480 million to NBN Co’s $750 million upgrade of its entire fixed wireless network, which will also benefit NBN Sky Muster users, helping to future proof regional Australia.

“The upgrade will extend the footprint of each NBN fixed wireless tower so that 120,000 additional premises are able to access fixed wireless services instead of Sky Muster satellite services,” Minister Fletcher said.

“This means more people can be served by NBN fixed wireless; it means higher speed services on the NBN fixed wireless network; and it means higher amounts of data can be used by households and business customers. Under the upgrade NBN will offer new higher speed services to the fixed wireless network: 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) to all 750,000 premises able to access the new, expanded coverage footprint, and a 250 Mbps service will be available to 85 per cent of premises.”

Minister McKenzie said the Liberal and Nationals Government will also be taking a more coordinated, strategic approach to regional communications investment, as recommended by the review.

“This will incorporate wider government and regional priorities and working more closely with all tiers of government and industry, including consultation on guiding principles to this effect. We will ensure telecommunications backs in other Liberal and Nationals Government strategic priorities like regionalisation, the digital economy, agriculture, education, health, North Australia, public safety, resilience and disaster management and recovery,” Minister McKenzie said.

These measures will lock-in the gains of recent years while ensuring regions can reach their potential, including producing more jobs, a better quality of life, and a stronger regional Australia.

For the report of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review and the Government’s full response, visit www.rtirc.gov.au

Media contacts:

Minister McKenzie’s office: David Edghill 0477 417 516

Minister Fletcher’s office: Imre Salusinszky 0432 535 737