The Western Australia Government is putting $20.7 million towards fixing regional mobile blackspots under the Regional Telecommunications Project.
The government has recognised poor digital connectivity as a major impediment to regional economic development and job creation.
This new funding will also put the state in good stead for the next round of the Federal Government’s Mobile Blackspot Program, placing it in a stronger position in being able to negotiate Federal and industry investment.
During the last round, the WA government secured 26 new mobile towers for regional WA, leading to an investment of $14.6 million.
“We are investing heavily to close the digital gap in regional WA, through fixing mobile blackspots, our Digital Farm Program to drive agricultural productivity, and our State Agricultural Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund,” regional development minister Alannah MacTiernan said in a statement.
“Poor connectivity stifles economic development, hurts regional businesses, makes it difficult for our farmers to compete in a global market, and is a safety risk in remote areas.”
Furthermore, the government has also released a draft telecommunications infrastructure position statement, after discovering a loophole that enabled new small housing subdivisions to be built without a connection.
The Fibre Ready Telecommunications Infrastructure position statement, which is now open for public comment, will make it a condition for developers to provide telecommunications infrastructure to new lots at the subdivision stage.
The statement will provide guidance on greenfield and infill subdivision and development applications of land for residential, commercial and industrial purposes.
The loophole was first raised in state parliament last year, after residents in Balga were left with a costly burden of retrofitting internet and phone connections for their new home.
“When someone is building their first home, it is natural for them to assume that power, gas, water and a phone line – that is, telecommunication – would be part and parcel of the build when they move into their house,” Mirrabooka MLA Janine Freeman said in a statement.
"Strangely, provision of telecommunications has not been a requirement in Western Australia for subdivisions, unlike other states, which is sadly what some constituents of mine found out the hard way.”