The Regional Connectivity Program (the RCP) is a grants program funding the delivery of 'place-based' telecommunications infrastructure projects to improve digital connectivity across regional, rural and remote Australia.
Round 2 of the RCP will provide $137.2 million (GST inclusive) over the next two years to improve telecommunications infrastructure in regional and remote Australia. This funding will leverage a total investment of $226 million for the delivery of projects across Australia.
This includes Australian Government funding of of $69.6 million (GST inclusive) for projects through the Connecting Northern Australia initiative (CNA initiative) and funding of $67.6 million (GST inclusive) for projects in regions across other parts of Australia.
Round 2 of RCP focuses on areas:
- of high economic and/or social value,
- outside the NBN Fixed-line footprint; and,
- where better connectivity and increased data have a clear benefit to a local region.
Funded projects include new and improved mobile, voice and data coverage and fixed wireless, fibre and satellite broadband service upgrades to locations across regional, rural and remote Australia. Round 2 of the RCP continues to complement the Government's National Broadband Network and the Mobile Black Spot Program to bring the digital economy to more of Australia's regions, making them better places to live, work and invest.
Information on the successful Round 2 RCP projects is available in the additional information and resources section below.
The Connecting Northern Australia initiative
The CNA initiative was announced in the 2021–22 Budget as part of the Our North, Our Future: White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. The CNA initiative will support projects which respond to the specific connectivity needs of rural and remote communities in the vital strategic growth area of Northern Australia. The CNA initiative is providing $69.6 million (GST inclusive) towards improving telecommunications infrastructure across Northern Australia through Round 2 of the RCP. This funding includes $27.6 million (GST inclusive) of dedicated investment towards new and upgraded mobile services in Northern Australia.
For the purposes of Round 2, Northern Australia is defined as the following:
- all of the Northern Territory (NT)
- the parts of Queensland (QLD) and Western Australia (WA) north of the Tropic of Capricorn other than the Meekatharra Statistical Area level 2
- the areas south of the Tropic of Capricorn of each Statistical Area Level 2 that has an area covered by point b);
- the Statistical Areas Level 2 of Gladstone (QLD), Gladstone Hinterland (QLD), and Carnarvon (WA)
- the Local Government Areas of Meekatharra (WA), Wiluna (WA), and Ngaanyatjarraku (WA), and
- the Indian Ocean Territories (Cocos Keeling Islands and Christmas Island).
An indicative map of the eligible area is also available on the Office of Northern Australia website.
The first round of the Government's Regional Connectivity Program (the RCP) is providing $115.97 million (GST inclusive) in Commonwealth for 130 place-based telecommunications infrastructure projects across Australia, providing regional communities with significant upgrades to voice and data services. The RCP targets investment in telecommunications projects that respond to local priorities and maximise economic and social benefits for regional communities and businesses.
On 16 April 2021 the Australian Government announced successful projects funded under Round 1 of the RCP. On 10 June 2021, the Government announced further meritorious Round 1 projects had been funded under the program.
Funded projects include new and improved mobile voice and data coverage, fixed wireless and fibre broadband services, and improved microwave and fibre backhaul capacity to locations across regional, rural and remote Australia. Improved connectivity through the RCP will allow regional communities and businesses to access essential online services, utilise new business tools and connect with the digital economy.
Additional information and resources
- Round 2 Regional Connectivity Program—funded projects
- The Round 2 Guidelines are available on GrantConnect
- 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review
- Government's response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review
- 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review
- Have Your Say on the draft Regional Connectivity Program Round 2 Draft Grant Opportunity Guidelines
- Round 1 RCP application outcomes are available on GrantConnect