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Regional and on-farm mobile coverage set for $650 million boost under Labor Government

Telecommunications in the regions and on-farm mobile coverage will be given a $650 million boost under the new Labor government.

The party — which unveiled its agriculture plan on May 13 — has named regional connectivity as a “top priority” it will address through its Better Connectivity For Rural and Regional Australia plan and Regional Connectivity Program.

Through the BCRRA, a $400m fund will be established to expand multi-carrier mobile coverage along regional roads, homes and businesses.

A $20m independent national audit of mobile coverage across the country’s regional areas will start this year, with mobile signal measurement devices set to be placed on Australia Post vehicles to gather the most accurate data possible.

The audit will assist in locating priority areas and will include consultation with Infrastructure Australia and regional communities.

Labor has committed a further $200m under the RCP to fund household and business connectivity projects, which may include improving mobile voice and data coverage, improving microwave and fibre backhaul capacity to rural and remote areas and targeted fibre deployments.

An additional $30m commitment to expand on-farm connectivity and improve wireless extension solutions is set to help farmers to fully utilise sensor and connected-machinery technology.

It will also provide a $6m boost to the Australian Government’s Regional Tech Hub, developed by the National Farmers’ Federation to provide those in rural communities with information on technologies available to them and help troubleshooting connectivity issues.

The initiatives build on Labor’s commitments to expand full-fibre NBN access to 660,000 more regional homes and businesses, upgrade the NBN fixed-wireless network for faster speeds and increase NBN satellite data allowances to 90 gigabytes a month and unmetered data between midnight and 4pm.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the measures would improve the efficiency of domestic food production and support export growth potential.

“This is a comprehensive, targeted plan that will ensure better mobile coverage on roads, on farms and across regional communities, and better broadband too,” he said.

“This is critical to modern agriculture and making sure Australian farms are as efficient and competitive as they can be.”

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