The Better Connectivity Plan is a key initiative and part of the Australian Government's telecommunications agenda and is providing more than $1.1 billion to rural and regional communities. This commitment forms part of the Government’s investment of more than $2.2 billion in regional communications.
The Plan includes $656 million provided in the 2022-23 October Budget over five years to improve mobile and broadband connectivity and resilience in rural and regional Australia. Initial funding allocations under the Plan include:
- $400 million to boost multi-carrier mobile coverage on regional roads, improve mobile coverage in under-served regional and remote communities, and increase the resilience of communications services and public safety communications facilities;
- $200 million for two additional rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program to invest in place-based digital connectivity infrastructure projects in regional communities;
- $30 million for on-farm connectivity, so farmers can take advantage of connected machinery and sensor technology;
- $20 million to conduct an independent audit of mobile coverage to better identify black spots and guide investment priorities; and
- $6 million to boost funding for the Regional Tech Hub, which supports regional consumers to access advice and support on digital connectivity options.
The Better Connectivity Plan also includes the $480 million already provided to NBN Co through the NBN Fixed Wireless and Satellite Upgrade Program. This investment is upgrading 120,000 satellite premises to Fixed Wireless, and boosting the Fixed Wireless network by enabling speeds of up to 100 Mbps for all premises in the expanded Fixed Wireless footprint, and up to 250 Mbps for 85% of Fixed Wireless premises. This upgrade is also delivering important benefits to NBN satellite services by relieving satellite capacity.
The Better Connectivity Plan will drive productivity and improve equity for rural and regional communities. Improvements in digital connectivity deliver some of the most tangible and widespread benefits across a huge range of areas including economic and social participation and equality, access to online government, health and education services, and public safety including on roads and during disasters and emergencies.
The Government's investment through the Better Connectivity Plan complements other measures to improve digital connectivity for all Australians, including by enhancing the National Broadband Network (NBN) so that no-one is held back or left behind by lack of access to high-speed broadband.
Measures under the Plan are rolling out now, with more information available at the links above.