Bush gets $60m broadband boost

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Bush gets $60m broadband boost

Budget unlocked to tame the tyranny of distance.

The Federal Government has called for proposals to spend $60 million it allocated over four years to bring broadband applications to the bush following the finalisation of grant guidelines today.

The spending included $46 million from the Government's response to the regional telecommunications review and another $14 million from its rural and regional broadband network initiative announced in May's Budget.

Broadband Minister Senator Stephen Conroy said the "digital regions inititative" will deliver the sorts of online services metropolitan users take for granted, in areas such as healthcare, education and emergency services.

"Regional, rural and remote Australia has much to gain from our broadband investments and this program provides support for community-focussed digital initiatives," Senator Conroy said.

The Federal Government website said state, territory and local governments seeking funding must provide matching funds to "enable projects of greater scale, coverage and benefit to regional Australians".

It aimed to build on the national broadband network investment, stimulate the digital economy, create jobs and develop skills to retain professionals in regional Australia.

Successful applicants will demonstrate how they closed service gaps, worked across jurisdictions, built on the Clever Networks program, deployed technologies developed by recognised ICT research institutions, and aligned with Government health, education and emergency services policies.

Private enterprise was eligible to submit proposals as part of a consortium with local or state governments.

"Funding will only be provided to innovative, high-quality projects that are closely aligned to the aim and principles outlined in these guidelines," the guidelines said.

"Applicants are expected to provide a clear strategy to ensure ongoing financial viability of their project.

"Funding will not be provided to support the continuation of activities of existing projects." 

The Government will fund applications, change management programs and project introduction costs, infrastructure enhancement, network engineering improvements and capital spending such as servers, networks and hubs.

The Government set fixed, annual staff costs of:

  • Program leader/senior manager $170,000
  • Project/team leader/manager $108,300
  • Support staff $ 67,500

First round call for expressions of interest for proposals typically of $2 million to $7 million close September 14; full project proposals must be submitted before October 14.

Projects must be completed before 2013 to allow six months for review.

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