Incredible connectivity has the potential to transform a nation, but these dreams can only be realised if everyone can join in.

I wanted to tell you about a major initiative we are launching to bring even better connectivity to those who rely on it in rural and regional areas.

Improving our regional and rural networks

As 3G ticks over to 4G and into 5G; or as copper ADSL transforms into fibre, satellite or mobile internet, we’re always finding new solutions to solve old problems.

New technology will help us realise the goal of becoming a world-leading digital economy, and we need to make sure everyone can participate. That’s why we have a new funding program to improve our network for regional, rural and remote customers.

Over the next four years, we will lead a co-investment fund aimed at enhancing and extending mobile coverage in rural and regional areas. We plan to stimulate infrastructure co-investment with governments, local councils and businesses in areas that would otherwise be difficult to justify on economic grounds.

We’ve done this before, and had great success in the last few years, investing over $120 million ourselves in such projects in regional, rural and remote Australia. That’s why we’re doing it again.

We will also be investing a further $150 million over the next 12 months to improve networks in regional, rural and remote Australia. We will be boosting coverage at popular destination spots; funding capacity upgrades; ensuring that 3G-only sites have access to 4G; building new 4G sites, and developing technology for long-range sites with small cells and satellite backhaul.

The $200 million co-investment fund, paired with our additional $150 million, is backed up by and in addition to a number of projects we have recently been awarded by the Federal Government.

We will be working with the Federal Government through their Regional Connectivity Program to help power $55 million-worth of network upgrades, and we are the only major mobile provider to both win projects and commit funding to improve services.

Pair that with our participation in the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, where we have put up more than double the capital investment of the rest of the industry put together to build more than two thirds of the mobile black spot towers in the program.

Our regional legacy

We have a longstanding commitment to provide connectivity to regional, rural and remote areas. In these areas, Telstra is more than just another telco: it’s often the only telco. That is a big responsibility, and one we take seriously.

We have spent years hauling equipment across this wide brown land, building mobile towers; exchanges, and more to connect even the most far-flung Australians to the rest of the world.

Our commitment to regional areas is about more than just giving people a good network to stream movies on. With the pandemic driving a massive surge in online services – especially from the government – it’s about making sure everyone can benefit and thrive in the new digital age.

In 2021, it is more important than ever to keep our customers at the heart of everything we do – especially when it comes to connectivity.