What is the Regional Connectivity Program?
The Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) is a $53 million competitive grant opportunity to expand the economic, social and public safety benefits of improved digital connectivity to regional, rural and remote Australian communities.
The grant opportunity will be administered by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (DITRDC).
The Regional Connectivity Program was announced as part of the Government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.
The objective of the Program is to use a place-based approach to target telecommunications infrastructure investment that will provide economic opportunities and improve participation in the digital economy for regional communities and businesses.
The intended outcomes of the Program are to:
- Provide place-based solutions to regional digital connectivity issues through a range of mobile and/or broadband services; and
- Complement the National Broadband Network, the Mobile Black Spot Program and the telecommunications industry’s commercial investment plans.
The Department estimates that there will be up to $53 million (GST exclusive) available for the Grant Opportunity in 2020-21.
- There is no minimum grant amount
- There is no maximum grant amount, but grants cannot exceed the amount of available funds, being up to $53 million (GST exclusive).
There is no minimum or maximum number of projects that the Government is seeking to fund in any category.
- Category 1: Projects seeking Regional Connectivity Program funding of less than $300,000 (GST exclusive)
- Category 2: Projects seeking Regional Connectivity Program funding of $300,000 to $2 million (GST exclusive)
- Category 3: Projects seeking Regional Connectivity Program funding of greater than $2 million (GST exclusive)
The Program is a place-based program that will give effect to local and national goals through targeted investment in telecommunications infrastructure. It will enable bespoke telecommunications projects to be specifically tailored to the particular economic and/or social requirements of a region.
The Program’s Grant Opportunity will support projects that deliver new telecommunications infrastructure or the upgrade of existing telecommunications infrastructure to provide economic and social benefits in regional, rural and remote areas.
The Grant Opportunity will focus on areas:
- of high economic and/or social value
- outside the NBN Fixed-line footprint; and
- where better connectivity and increased data have a clear benefit to a local region.
To be eligible, your Proposed Solution must:
- improve access to mobile and/or broadband services in Eligible Areas of high economic, social, or public safety significance
- provide place-based telecommunications solutions to regional digital connectivity issues
- deliver new infrastructure or the upgrade or improvement of existing infrastructure
- not overbuild a like-for-like service, such as Fixed Wireless where there is an existing Fixed Wireless service (similarly for 4G mobile services), unless you can demonstrate a clear need for improvement and the project would deliver a demonstrable and substantive improvement in service quality, coverage, reliability or speed;
- not have started construction or be part of the participating telecommunications provider’s forward build network or upgrade plans over the next three financial years; and
- for mobile solutions, include an auxiliary back-up power supply which provides back up power for a minimum of 12 hours in the event of the loss of external power to the site.
To be eligible you must:
- have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
and must be one of the following entity types, a:
- licensed telecommunications carrier under the Telecommunications Act 1997; or
- owner or intended owner of the Proposed Solution infrastructure who holds or intends to hold a Nominated Carrier Declaration (NCD) under the Telecommunications Act 1997 in relation to the infrastructure to be built or improved/upgraded; or
for a joint (consortia) application:
- at least one organisation must be a licensed telecommunications carrier or infrastructure owner who holds/intends to hold a NCD in relation to the infrastructure to be built or improved/upgraded. The licensed carrier or infrastructure owner (in the case a NCD applies) must be the entity that enters into a Grant Agreement with the Commonwealth. However, such an application may be led by any of the following entity types:
- Licensed carriers or infrastructure owner (in the case a NCD applies)
- State and territory governments
- Local government, local governing bodies, and regional development bodies
- Industry, business, and community groups
- Not-for-profits; or
- First Nations community controlled organisations.
Applications close 17 November 2020.