Govt delivering disaster-resilient comms to peri-urban fringes

Tuesday, 08 August, 2023

Govt delivering disaster-resilient comms to peri-urban fringes

Local communities, councils and telcos are encouraged to have their say on new draft guidelines for the $20 million second round of the Australian Government’s Peri-Urban Mobile Program (PUMP), which provides funding to improve mobile coverage on the urban fringes of communities across the country.

Peri-urban fringes — where the bush meets the edges of the suburbs — create significant challenges for communications infrastructure and natural disaster risks for those living and working in those communities. These communities are generally underserved because of their high cost, difficult terrain, planning challenges including in national parks, and lower population densities. PUMP targets longstanding mobile coverage and connectivity issues for impacted peri-urban communities by co-investing with mobile network operators on local projects.

Round 2 responds to feedback from communities who weren’t eligible for the limited scope of PUMP in the past. The draft guidelines expand the eligible areas for the program to the peri-urban fringe of additional major cities and regional centres across Australia, including Ballarat, Bendigo, Cairns, Canberra/Queanbeyan, the NSW Central Coast, Darwin, Geelong, the Gold Coast/Tweed Heads, Newcastle, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Townsville and Wollongong.

“Having access to reliable coverage during a disaster can be the difference between life and death,” said Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland. “That’s why the Albanese government committed to improving mobile coverage across Australia, including along our peri-urban fringes, to ensure local communities can stay in touch and receive information when they need it most.

“Our government is expanding the eligibility of this next round of the Peri-Urban Mobile Program to cover more communities previously excluded from the program to ensure they get the investment they need to stay connected.”

A project noticeboard has been established as part of the consultation process to help local councils and community groups identify mobile coverage and reception in the peri-urban fringe, and form partnerships with the telecommunications sector to develop applications for funding. Local councils and community groups are invited to upload their project proposals to the noticeboard throughout the consultation period, which closes on 16 August at 5 pm.

PUMP complements the work of the Albanese government to increase telecommunications and broadcasting disaster resilience across Australia, including through its $20 million Broadcasting Resilience Program to safeguard ABC broadcast towers and its $15 million Mobile Network Hardening Program. The government committed $39.1 million for Rounds 2 and 3 of the program in the 2022–23 Budget; further information on Round 3 will be provided as it is developed.

To view the draft grant opportunity guidelines or make a submission, click here.

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