NSW govt looks to fund small rural telcos

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NSW govt looks to fund small rural telcos

Unveils $50m blackspots project of its own.

The NSW government is set to bankroll the creation or expansion of small telcos in regional and rural areas.

Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW John Barilaro yesterday unveiled a $50 million scheme to improve telecommunications infrastructure in under-served regions of the state.

The funds are drawn from a $1.3 billion regional growth fund announced in the 2017 state budget.

They will be accessible by local government, regional organisations, industry and community organisations from 93 regional council areas.

The project is intended to build upon the success of the federal government's mobile blackspots scheme, to which the NSW government contributed $39 million.

But unlike that scheme, where the funds were distributed between the three main mobile telcos - Telstra, Optus and Vodafone - Barilaro indicated an intention by the government to invest in small, niche telcos that wanted to serve local communities.

"We're interested with working with small technology companies that can deliver at a very local, granular level," he said.

Speaking at the launch of the fund, Barilaro said it would be used to "work through mobile blackspots right across NSW" and "look at opportunities off the back of the NBN".

Further comment was being sought from the Department of Premier and Cabinet at the time of publication.

The fund comes just days after the NSW government committed $4 million to a $16 million project to improve mobile coverage and station wi-fi on NSW’s Central Coast.

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