Regional Digital Connectivity program
The Regional Digital Connectivity program aims to bring faster, more reliable, widespread digital coverage to regional NSW and confirms the NSW Government’s commitment to deliver transformative investment under the $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.
This major turning point for connectivity will ensure citizens across the state have access to the internet, mobile and other digital services they need with a focus on three priority areas:
- internet and data – closing the gap between metro and regional internet speeds, prices and reliability
- farm and water – enabling our farmers to leverage agricultural technology (AgTech) to boost competitiveness, productivity and water management
- mobile – eliminating mobile black spots where people live and work.
The Regional Digital Connectivity Program will investigate how to close the divide between metropolitan and regional NSW. It will provide digital infrastructure to support growing economies and communities from country to coast.
The NSW Government is looking at Dubbo and Wagga Wagga, and the surrounding areas, as case study locations to design a better-connected regional NSW. Technical consultants have started speaking with councils and key stakeholders to investigate example designs in and around these two regional centres. These designs will work out where investment is implemented and they will be shaped by regional communities and businesses from the beginning, ensuring specific needs are met now and into the future.
Internet and data
The Regional Digital Connectivity Program will investigate connecting regional hubs to major internet data exchanges in Sydney via high-capacity fibre, which will increase capacity, speed and accessibility for regional internet services.
Currently, nearly all of NSW’s global internet data traffic is transmitted through massive underwater fibre optic cables located near Sydney. People in regional NSW receive internet signals that ‘bounce’ to-and-from Sydney when they use Skype and view webpages, video and social media feeds.
This program will explore the value of connecting several major regional centres, as well as data centres in these locations to deliver better and faster internet to users.
Farm and water
Delivering digital connectivity where it’s needed will help farms to use AgTech to monitor water use and increase productivity.
The Regional Digital Connectivity Program will study on-farm connectivity. Agribusinesses across the world use AgTech devices such as soil probes to check moisture and minerals, sensors in rivers and dams to check water levels, and trackers to locate animals. This increases productivity, reduces risk and improves safety. The NSW Government aims to understand where digital coverage can help the agribusiness sector to use this technology where it will add value.
The Regional Digital Connectivity Program will reduce mobile black spots and future-proof regional mobile coverage. First steps will scope available and emerging technologies, including 5G, to give cross-state coverage where people live and work. This is backed by a $300 million election commitment to improve mobile connectivity in our regions.
The NSW Government has already committed almost $40 million and delivered 156 new mobile towers in NSW since 2015, with more to come, allowing 6000 more Triple Zero emergency calls to be made.