NBN Co is now inviting expressions of interest for its $300 million regional co-investment fund, which will part-pay broadband infrastructure upgrades in areas served by either fixed wireless or satellite.
The fund was announced in September last year as part of a multi-billion dollar package of upgrades to the NBN.
“Expressions of interest can now be lodged to allow project costings prior to interested parties deciding to submit an application,” NBN Co said in a statement.
“The closing date for receipt of build estimate requests is 5pm (AEDST) on October 1 2021, and the closing date for applications under the initial round is 5pm (AEDST) on February 18 2022.”
NBN Co said it would progressively assess projects as they were proposed, and move forward with those that met “NBN Co’s commercial investment benchmark.”
All levels of government are invited to submit proposals.
“By co-investing with federal, state and territory government agencies and local councils we will further improve access to broadband services in rural and regional Australia,” chief development officer for regional development and engagement Gavin Williams said.
“Together, we can continue to enhance the digital capabilities of these important communities, boosting job prospects and helping our regions to thrive.”
The rules of the program state that NBN Co “will retain 100 percent ownership of the infrastructure asset and as such, will be responsible to maintain the asset and be the sole recipient of any revenues derived from the asset.”
NBN Co said it “intends” to complete all build work under the program by the end of June 2024.
Only two types of upgrades are permissible under the scheme: “satellite or fixed wireless to fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), or “satellite to fixed wireless”, according to the guidelines.
NBN Co said it would not consider “projects that target less than 50 premises and are under $500,000 total build cost.”
It also will not accept proposals that involve additional parties beyond a government.
It said its own $300 million contribution, to be shared by applicants, was entirely sourced from debt markets.