The NBN Co will invest $300 million to boost connectivity for regional communities as part of its national broadband network upgrade.
The $300 million co-investment fund will see NBN Co partner with governments to provide regional households, businesses and communities with enhanced broadband technologies and help meet the diverse and growing needs of Australians living in regional areas.
Under the $4.5 billion upgrade plan announced last week, NBN Co will also invest $700 million to enable over a million businesses nationwide, including those in regional and remote areas, with a flattening of traditional pricing structures and extension of CBD zone pricing for its “Enterprise Ethernet” to these locations.
It will establish 240 dedicated “business fibre” zones, offering entities within the zones (including home-base businesses and sole traders) the option of a full-fibre connection at no cost if the business takes a three-year contract with their choice of Enterprise Ethernet service providers.
Eighty-five of the zones will be in regional areas, including Bunbury, Mount Gambier, Devonport, Shepparton, Port Macquarie, and Rockhampton.
NBN Co says it is allocating $50 million over three years to work with local councils and state and territory governments to identify opportunities to extend business-grade services outside designated Business Fibre Zones.
Details of how NBN Co engages with local governments are still to be finalised, but the company has advised it plans to stage events in regional areas, starting in November, to help the first 130 business fibre zones better understand what it will mean for them.
NBN Co Chief Development Officer, Regional and Remote, Gavin Williams said: “Regional communities stand to benefit significantly from increased business potential made possible by digital technologies, including the creation of new businesses, the regional relocation of businesses, and access to new opportunities for innovation, productivity and growth.”