Gig State grant opportunity - Frequently Asked Questions
The grant opportunity
The Gig State grant is a $60 million opportunity for vendors to provide internet services to rural and remote locations that have no planned or existing fixed line internet coverage or rely on satellite coverage. The aim of the project is to improve digital connectivity across regional NSW where there is limited or no internet availability. This grant will address the digital divide in regional NSW, fund telecommunications infrastructure that is fit for today and meets future needs, and provide affordable and improved digital connectivity to rural and remote communities.
Eligible applicants include telecommunication companies that have a carrier licence and can provide fixed internet services (for example, fixed wireless or fibre to the premise). Eligibility criteria is listed in the grant guidelines.
Eligible connectivity solutions must be via fixed services, including Fixed Wireless Technology connecting fixed locations with radio or other wireless links. This may be via a mobile network solution (4 or 5G), provided they connect to fixed customer premise equipment and meet the minimum speed requirement.
No, there are no maximum or minimum amounts set for this grant. The $60 million grant pool will be awarded based on the applications provided by a qualified services provider and their ability to meet the criteria set out in the grant guidelines. Partial funding of an application may be considered depending upon the outcome of the assessment process.
Grants may be used for capital and other expenses directly related to the solution: pre-construction costs; engineering and feasibility designs; regulatory approvals; site acquisition costs; delivery of the new infrastructure; labour and resources to carry out the project; backhaul construction, power connections; and customer connections. A complete list of eligible and ineligible uses of funds is explained in the grant guidelines.
The aim of the grant is to provide new coverage to areas that do not have access to fixed services (that is, they rely solely on satellite services). The grant is not to be used to upgrade or improve existing fixed internet services.
Capital expenditure directly related to the delivery of infrastructure, such as backhaul, is considered as eligible expenditure. Operating costs, including backhaul lease costs, are considered to be ineligible expenditure. This grant does not allow for the capitalisation of recurring costs.
Applicant organisations should be experienced in the implementation of telecommunications network infrastructure and understand the associated risks.
Successful applicants will receive grant funding to build, own, maintain and earn revenue from the network; this includes responsibility for all the associated project risks.
This onus is on the applicant to determine the costs of their proposed solution based on their assessment of the sites proposed and the costs to implement these solutions.
The application process
The Department will review applications against grant eligibility and facilitate assessment of applications against the assessment criteria. These are outlined in the grant guidelines . An Assessment Panel will review project eligibility and assessment outcomes. Factors include social and economic outcomes, consumer outcomes, deliverability, strategic alignment, value for money, and technical due diligence. An independent probity advisor will be present during Assessment Panel meetings. Funding recommendations made by the Assessment Panel will be considered and approved by the Department.
The grant aims to deliver new internet coverage to several thousands of residents in rural and remote communities by the end of 2025. This is an ambitious schedule with tight timelines and our intention is to announce successful vendors by early 2023, to enable project commencement by the first quarter of 2023. As such, there is no allowance for an extension in this timeline.
The grant application process is available through SmartyGrants which contains application forms and required documents. All applicants need to apply in the SmartyGrants portal and proceed through the registration and application process.
All grant applicants are provided with a list of regional areas in Australia that this grant applies to. Applicants are asked to submit solutions that meet the eligibility criteria and their business. The successful solutions are dependent upon the locations submitted by applicants and will be announced following the assessment process in February 2023, at which time, the communities receiving the benefit of the grants will be announced.
You can email email@example.com for further information. All registered applicants will be invited to a webinar during the application process to clarify questions regarding the grant.
The grant opens on 4 October 2022 and closes at 5.00pm on 21 November 2022.
Letters of support are not required with the applications
Should you have any issues or need technical support relating to the SmartyGrants platform, you can contact:
Technical & Account Inquiries
Phone: +61 3 9320 6888
In the grant guidelines, Merit Criteria 1 recognises solutions that provide industry and other key business and industry users (e.g. airports, schools, hospitals and police) with internet services. The primary focus of the grant is to provide communities and their residents with internet solutions. Solutions that provide connectivity to a limited number of specific premises are not eligible.
The solution provided by the applicant must be able to provide cost effective and affordable services to consumers. The pricing must be equivalent to the Sydney price for the equivalent product and service.
Local businesses can apply however, they must meet the eligibility criteria which requires applicants to have an Australian ABN number and an Australian Carrier Licence under the Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth).
A key objective of the Gig State grant is to provide new internet coverage across the state in rural areas. A detailed coverage map of your proposed solution area is required, specifically detailing areas where there is no existing or scheduled/planned coverage to the best of your knowledge.
The grant will not consider stand-alone backhaul submissions as this does not meet eligibility criteria. However, backhaul providers can partner with other providers that offer broadband fixed network services in a grant application.
There are no set boundaries or restrictions on the size of the application of the $60 million grant. It can be awarded to small, medium and large providers should they meet the appropriate criteria and eligibility.
A soft copy is acceptable. The document must be signed and emailed through to the Gig State email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
50/10 Mbps is a minimum network capability for any solution. This service must be offered as one of the services available. Applicants can also offer other services, either above or below 50/10 Mbps, provided a 50/10 Mbps service is available at a metropolitan equivalent price.
Applicants should use the best available elevation mapping for their coverage mapping. The Department will not be providing any elevation mapping.
There are no parameters set for this requirement. Applicants should provide the level of detail required to demonstrate that their organisation can deliver within the timeframes specified.
Wholesale and retail service offerings are both acceptable. Wholesale submissions should include the retailers they have existing arrangements with.
As per the guidelines, satellite backhaul is allowed but not at the access network level.
Assessments will be conducted based on the technology proposals submitted. Clarification may be sought regarding existing or planned coverage within each application after the closing date. Submissions will not be automatically excluded due to planned services in the location.
The grant will be paid in instalments, as measured against milestones in a payment schedule which will be reviewed and agreed as part of contractual negotiations. The exact instalment values depend on the solutions proposed and project timelines in order to meet a completion date of 31 December 2025.
The Department will apply a value-for-money criteria to all proposals received. Applicants will be required to make a cash co-contribution towards the construction of the proposed internet connectivity solution. Proposals with higher co-contribution amounts are more likely to be supported should this result in more premises being provided with internet coverage that currently have no service or are serviced by satellites.
The grantee will be responsible for all costs of delivering the selected solutions, including where estimated costs are exceeded. This is consistent with all Department grant programs.
Respondents are encouraged to consult their respective tax advisors or the Australian Taxation Office to understand any tax implications prior to applying. Grant funding excludes Goods and Services Tax (GST) and as such, will be applied on top of the agreed grant value when paid to the grantee.
All funded infrastructure becomes an asset of the grantee and should form part of their network, with continuous maintenance and operating costs being the responsibility of the grantee.
Applicants cannot incorporate funding already received from the Commonwealth and/or State Governments as part of the financial co-contribution in their grant application.
Funding for this program is specific to delivering internet connectivity to the locations that are only serviced via satellite only. This program provides internet services to fixed customer premise equipment.
The merit criteria does allow for additional service offerings, such as services above the minimum speed requirement, choice of retail service providers, IoT devices for agricultural land, mobile services, access to licenced spectrum, additional resiliency measures, etc. Solutions that are fully or partly funded by other Government programs are not eligible.
Online industry briefing
The Gig State grant funding opportunity industry briefing was held online 19 October 2022.
A recording from the briefing session is available here: Gig State industry briefing video recording