The NSW Government has allocated $518 million to improve connectivity across rural and regional areas.
The fund, revealed in the NSW Budget on 18 June, will cover $400 million in capital expenditure, plus $118 million in operating and recurring costs alongside depreciation for a four-year period.
Announced as part of the Regional Digital Connectivity Program, the fund will provide mobile black spot towers and data centres in an effort to improve internet connectivity and reliability in regional NSW.
The Program is a four-year initiative by the NSW Government that sets out to bring “faster, more reliable, widespread digital coverage” to regional NSW. Funded by the state government’s $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund, the program aims to close the gap between metro and regional internet speeds and reliability, eliminate blackspots and enable farmers to leverage agricultural technology.
In a statement, deputy premier for NSW John Barilaro called the program a “quantum leap in the right direction”.
“In regional NSW connectivity is king and if you are not connected you can’t compete,” he said.
“Not only do we want regional NSW to be competitive, we want to be the best in the world when it comes to attracting investment and exporting our first-class products.”
The Government will make a $90 million down payment in this year’s Budget, with a total of $518 million expected to be spent between this year and 2023.
“If we want to succeed in making regional NSW the number one destination in Australia to live, work, invest and play we need to conquer barriers around connectivity,” Barilaro added.
The program will have three main priority areas: the first will be in internet reliability, with Dubbo and Wagga Wagga being the first areas to investigate the design of new data hubs and fibre cables.
The second will be to enhance the infrastructure for the agricultural industry, and the third being to eliminate mobile black spots.
“Regional Digital Connectivity will bring a more reliable, faster, and widespread digital network to people in our regions, ensuring they can access the services they need, like emergency services, without the worry of whether they have mobile phone reception or a strong enough internet signal,” added Dominic Perrottet, NSW Treasurer.