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.
On 6 May 2021, the Government announced that further Commonwealth funding will be allocated towards 'place-based' telecommunications infrastructure projects under the RCP.
Round 2 of the RCP is providing an additional $112.8 million (GST incl), including $46.6 million (GST inclusive) of dedicated funding for projects in Northern Australia under the Connecting Northern Australia initiative.
The Government has released the draft grant opportunity guidelines for Round 2 of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) for public consultation. This is the opportunity to comment on the design of Round 2 of the RCP before the guidelines are finalised and a call for applications is made.
Submissions are encouraged from the telecommunications industry, all levels of government and other interested stakeholders. Consultation is open for two weeks until Friday 29 October 2021 at 5:00pm AEDT.
The Government has launched a Project Noticeboard for RCP Round 2 as part of the call for applications. The Noticeboard seeks to help communities form partnerships with the telecommunications sector to develop applications for RCP Round 2 funding. Members of the community are invited to upload their project proposals to the Noticeboard throughout the application period. Take a look at the Noticeboard here.
This noticeboard is for information purposes only. These projects have not been funded or endorsed by the Commonwealth. Projects on the noticeboard are not guaranteed funding, nor does the Commonwealth guarantee that any of the projects will be developed into an application. Views or recommendations provided in the project proposals do not necessarily reflect the views or recommendations of the Commonwealth nor indicate the Commonwealth's commitment to a particular course of action.
The Connecting Northern Australia initiative
The Connecting Northern Australia initiative (CNA initiative) was announced in the 2021–22 Budget as part of the Our North, Our Future: 2021-2026 white paper. The CNA initiative is providing $75.3 million (GST inclusive) in dedicated funding to improve telecommunications infrastructure across Northern Australia through the Mobile Black Spot Program and the Regional Connectivity Program.
The CNA initiative will support projects which respond to the specific connectivity needs of rural and remote communities in the north, a vital strategic growth area.
For the purposes of Round 2, Northern Australia is defined as the part of Australia above the Tropic of Capricorn and the whole of the Northern Territory. A detailed map of the eligible area is available on the Office of Northern Australia’s website.
On 16 April 2021 the Australian Government announced an investment of $90.3 million (GST inclusive) to support 81 communications infrastructure projects under Round 1 of the RCP.
On 10 June 2021, the Government announced that a further 51 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.
Further information on the Round 1 RCP application outcomes can be found on GrantConnect.