The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) has applauded the announcement of $43.5 million in Federal Government funding for vital improvements to mobile coverage and broadband services in the state.
Twenty-one projects have been approved for Round 2 funding in the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP), benefitting communities from Burketown to Boulia and as far as Bollon.
LGAQ CEO, Alison Smith said the funding covers new mobile sites and fixed wireless networks, as well as upgrades to existing mobile base stations and broadband services.
“For far too long, growth and investment in rural and regional communities has been stifled by the digital divide, so this is very welcome news for communities served by many of our member councils,” Ms Smith said.
“From education and healthcare to accessing banking and media services, unreliable connectivity is the bane of – and a potential hazard to – all who live in or visit our great regional centres.
“It’s particularly pleasing to see First Nations councils in Lockhart River and Doomadgee supported, along with other communities that are home to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents.
“This funding is an investment in Queenslanders, as it supports how we work and learn, how we remain safe and ensure the safety of our families and friends. Importantly, this funding is budgeted, so these vital works will proceed regardless of who forms government after the election.”
The largest project announced will see the installation of 226 kilometres of fibre optic cable between Burketown and Normanton in the north-west Gulf Savannah country. Coupled with supporting infrastructure for a fibre loop that encircles the region, the $7.4 million plan will create additional network redundancy for 66% of Queensland and network resiliency for some 780,000 people across 15 local government areas.
“The importance of this issue to our rural and remote communities is plain to see, with 22 councils contributing to the LGAQ’s submission to the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review and a further 15 making their own submissions,” Ms Smith said.
“We will continue to advocate for further improvements to connectivity and digital literacy across Queensland and an end to the patchwork quilt of connectivity that is a hurdle for far too many people living in or visiting our rural and remote communities.
A complete list of Round 2 RCP projects is available here.