We are investing now to deliver the kind of technology that can transform the lives of people living in regional communities over the next 20 years.

Investment in faster networks, drones, precision agriculture, e-health and robotics is driving Telstra’s innovation agenda for regional Australia that has been detailed in a White Paper into ‘Regional Australia’s Technology Future’.

The White Paper highlights the world of opportunities that new technologies can bring to regional and rural communities across Australia, and how we are working with industry partners across the country and around the world to bring them to life.

We want regional communities to see what is possible, and to be part of our innovation journey through programs such as the Telstra Innovation Challenge.

For the first time, the Innovation Challenge will focus on Australian agriculture.

This year teams are being challenged to design, hack and code an innovative internet of things (IoT) prototype solution for one of the many challenges that confront Aussie farmers.

The solution may involve providing an environmental benefit for farmers, improving operational efficiency by automating and simplifying manual tasks, or using IoT technology to create farms of the future.

The Innovation Challenge, supported by Landmark, has two streams – one for university teams and one for members of the public. Simply put, we want Australia’s best students and our best tech minds to innovate for our farmers.

More than 50 teams have entered the university stream of the Innovation Challenge.

It is great to see so many universities engaged in a program that provides a forum for our next generation of tech and innovation leaders to develop their skills and highlights the importance of STEM studies in our future economy.

Each year the Innovation Challenge shows what is possible when we bring great ideas to life on the Telstra network.

It is why investing in our mobile footprint, including the development of 5G technology, is a core element of our innovation agenda for regional Australia.

We understand connectivity is vital to regional, rural and remote communities, which is why we have consistently weighted network investments towards extending coverage.

Over the past 10 years, 15 per cent of our investment in our mobile network has gone to provide services to the most remote two per cent of the population.

We know more work needs to be done to make sure our customers have a consistently great experience, which is why over the next five years we will invest $350 million in new technology and regional base stations, up to $240 million to continue our work on the first two rounds of the successful Mobile Black Spot Programme, and a further $100-$200 million set aside for new regional co-investments.

So whether it’s mobile networks that are larger and faster, high-tech agriculture that makes farms more profitable, e-health solutions that bring world-class care to regional communities, or decentralised energy networks to make communities more independent – technology has the potential to create huge opportunities for families and businesses in regional Australia.

To view the ‘Regional Australia’s Technology Future’ White paper, log on to exchange.telstra.com.au/whitepaper/

For all the details about the Telstra Innovation Challenge, log on to cto.telstra.com/TIC2017/