Canberra consulting on Regional Connectivity Program

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 12 August, 2019

Canberra consulting on Regional Connectivity Program

The federal government has launched a public consultation into a new program aiming to improve digital connectivity in rural and regional Australia.

The Department of Communications has published a discussion paper covering the Regional Connectivity Program and is seeking feedback on the design of the program.

Telecommunications service providers, all levels of government and other interested stakeholders will have until 9 September to lodge a submission covering the discussion paper or other aspects of the program.

As part of the program, up to $53 million in grant funding will be made available to meet the goals of improving regional connectivity.

The program forms part of the $220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package, which was announced as part of the government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

“Fast and reliable telecommunications are vital for people living in the bush as they need the connections to go about almost every aspect of their lives,” Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government Mark Coulton said.

In another development set to improve regional connectivity, NBN Co has announced the launch of its new Sky Muster Plus premium satellite broadband service.

The wholesale Sky Muster Plus service is designed to allow retail service providers offering Sky Muster satellite services to develop packages aimed at high bandwidth consuming users.

Sky Muster Plus will provide unmetered access to basic web content including text and images, as well as email and PC and smartphone operating system updates. This will allow customers to access these services at full speeds even when their traffic has been shaped due to excess data usage.

Video and audio content, VPN content and non HTTP/HTTPS traffic will continue to be metered.

To date eight of the 11 existing Sky Muster satellite retail service providers have signed on to offer Sky Muster Plus services — Activ8me, Ant Communications, Bordernet, Clear Broadband, Harbour ISP, IPSTAR, Reachnet and SkyMesh. iiNet, Southern Phone and Westnet are currently only offering basic Sky Muster plans.

“Access to unmetered data for essential services will provide Australians living in regional and remote communities with more opportunities to embrace online services, including in my electorate of Parkes,” Coulton said.

“Today’s announcement will improve connectivity and provide families with a fast and reliable service to stay in touch with loved ones and build their businesses.”

Image courtesy NBN Co.

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