Applications open for Regional Connectivity and Mobile Black Spot Grants
Applications have today opened for Mobile Black Spot and Regional Connectivity proposals, reaffirming the Albanese Government’s commitment to improve communications in regional, rural, remote and First Nations communities.
This is a combined grant opportunity, bringing together the Mobile Black Spot Program and the Regional Connectivity Program in two steams, and providing dedicated First Nations funding:
- The $50 million Mobile Black Spot (Round 7) stream will provide grant funding to Mobile Network Operators and infrastructure providers to deliver new handheld mobile coverage to rural, regional and remote locations across Australia.
- The $100 million Regional Connectivity (Round 3) stream will provide grant funding to projects that provide place-based new or improved broadband services and/or improved mobile services in eligible locations across Australia.
- Both streams include dedicated funding for solutions to improve telecommunications infrastructure in First Nations communities. $22.5 million is identified in this round to support solutions that contribute towards achieving Target 17 of the Closing the Gap initiative, which aims to ensure First Nations people have equal levels of digital inclusion by 2026.
This competitive grant opportunity has been informed by extensive public consultation on the Draft Guidelines from 20 December 2022 until 10 February 2023. It is open to underserved regions across Australia that are outside Major Urban centres (i.e. outside areas with more than 100,000 people). This includes inner regional areas like Blue Mountains and the Adelaide Hills, to remote communities in the north of Western Australia, Central Australia, and Far North Queensland. The Guidelines specify the detailed eligibility criteria for each stream.
This opportunity is part of the Albanese Government’s Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia which is providing more than $1.1 billion to rural and regional communities, including $656 million to improve mobile and broadband connectivity and resilience in rural and regional Australia.
This grant funding unleashes new opportunities for funding mobile infrastructure in remote and very remote Australia, and First Nations communities by offering additional financial support for solutions targeting these underserved communities. This is in response to concerns from communities that previous schemes did not provide enough incentive to overcome the increasing challenges of more remote network deployments.
Applicants, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), communities and other interested parties are encouraged to work together during the application development period to develop multi-MNO solutions, including solutions that use active sharing technologies. This ensures that communities receive the maximum benefit from public funding of new infrastructure.
Applications for this combined grant opportunity close on 31 May 2023. To apply, visit: grants.gov.au
For more information on the MBSP, visit infrastructure.gov.au/mbsp
For more information on the RCP, visit infrastructure.gov.au/rcp
For more information on the Better Connectivity Plan, visit infrastructure.gov.au/bcp
Quotes attributable to the Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
“Australians deserve world class connectivity, no matter where they live or work.
“The Mobile Black Spot and Regional Connectivity grants are designed to help those living and working in rural, regional, remote and First Nations communities - helping them stay in touch with loved ones, run businesses efficiently, and stay connected during emergencies.
“I encourage all stakeholders and community members to work together on this combined grant opportunity so we can deliver funding to the areas most in need.
“I thank those stakeholders who provided feedback on this two-stream approach throughout the December-February consultation period. These Guidelines reflect the opportunity to deliver more certainty for interested parties as they will be able to consider the full range of connectivity solutions simultaneously.