We’re directing an additional $75 million from the part sale of our Telstra InfraCo Towers business to further enhance connectivity in regional Australia.
This builds on recent funding announcements to improve connectivity in regional and rural areas. We have earmarked $150 million for regional infrastructure over the next 12 months, and committed a further $200 million to encourage co-investment with governments and businesses to improve connectivity in regional Australia over the next four years. We are also co-funding new mobile towers and improved high-speed broadband services across 72 communities that need it the most as part of the Federal Government’s Regional Connectivity Program.
When it comes to allocating and rolling out this additional $75 million, we’ll be guided by the recommendations of the latest Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee (RTIRC) from the Federal Government. As the Committee meets with regional communities and stakeholders, we will listen to what they have to say to better understand what we can do to improve connectivity and service in the bush, just as we did during the committee’s 2018 review.
These investments will improve coverage and capacity for our customers living and working in regional Australia. They also come at a time when communities across the country are looking to participate in, and benefit from, the accelerating digital economy. Many of our largest sectors have their roots in regional Australia – agriculture, mining, transport and tourism – and their sustainable futures will rely on enhanced connectivity.
Investment in regional Australia means rolling out the latest technologies and future-proofing our existing leading network coverage. Our 5G network now reaches 75% of Australians, and in the last six months we have switched on 5G coverage for more than 100 regional towns and cities. As we roll out 5G, we know that our regional customers want to know how to best use the network and so we are committed to answering your regional mobile coverage questions.
At the same time, we have been working hard to improve fixed connectivity in critical locations, like rolling out major upgrades in 525 regional exchanges in NSW that have already delivered internet speeds up to 10 times faster for some public schools. These exchange upgrades have already bolstered the capacity available to our regional customers and this additional investment means more improvements are on the way.
We know that for many of our customers in regional areas Telstra is more than just another telco – it is often the only telco. We take that responsibility seriously. Our teams are on the ground working tirelessly to ensure our customers are connected, faults are fixed and issues are addressed quickly. But we know the job is far from done.
We look forward to working with local communities and RTIRC to understand what more we – and other telcos – can do to improve connectivity and service in the bush so all Australians can participate fully in the digital economy.