The Morrison government has today announced $130 million will be spent on the “hugely popular” Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) ahead of next week’s federal budget.
The funding – which aims to improve connectivity and technology in Australia’s regional centres – is part of the nearly $1.2 billion the government is set to spend on its Digital Economy Strategy.
In a statement on Thursday, Minister for Regional Communications Mark Coulton emphasised how the pandemic illustrated the import role regional Australians play in the country’s economic activity.
“The pandemic has shown many Australians the value of the regions, both as economic powerhouses and as desirable destinations to live, work, and raise a family,” Coulton said.
“In order to ensure regional Australians can continue to do the heavy lifting the nation asks of them, the government recognises — and is investing in — the need for improved connectivity.”
As part of the plan, $106 million is to be spent on a second round of the Regional Connectivity Program, with $45.6 million of that to be spent specifically on projects in the northernmost part of the nation.
The new funding comes on top of the $90 million already allocated to the project, with the government announcing 81 sites across the country that will utilise the first round of funding.
$25 million from the new funding will be spent on more of these “shovel-ready” projects that missed out during round one.
In total, more than $180 million will be spent on the project as a result of government spending and co-funding from grant recipients and local businesses.
Specific details of individual projects are yet to be revealed but Telstra has already confirmed it will be involved in 30 projects worth $26 million.
Projects will tackle major issues for regional Australians like mobile coverage upgrades, improving wireless coverage and fixing satellite broadband connectivity issues.
More information regarding the RCP, and the rest of the government’s Digital Economy Strategy will be revealed in next week’s budget.