Budget 2021: Bushfire-prone urban fringes to get AU$16.4m in mobile network grants

The Commonwealth to boost mobile funding on urban fridges and will hand ACMA AU$4.2 million to oversee the News Bargaining Code.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor on

The Australian government has said it will be handing over AU$16.4 million in mobile connectivity grants as part of its 2021 Budget set to be unveiled on May 11.

The grants will be focused on bushfire-prone peri-urban areas, the outskirts and transition areas between urban and rural landscapes, and given the abbreviation PUMP for Peri-Urban Mobile Program.

"Improving coverage on the peri-urban fringe will help communities access vital information during emergencies, seek help if needed and stay in touched with loved ones," Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said.

"PUMP will also improve the quality and reliability of available mobile services, providing benefits on a day-to-day basis for those living and working in these communities."

The grants will cover "new and improved" mobile connectivity, with Fletcher adding it will complement the Mobile Black Spot Program, which is now on round 5A.

Fletcher also said the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would also get AU$4.2 million to "support the implementation and administration" of the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code.

"Our investment will enable ACMA to fulfil its functions under the Code, including administering an eligibility scheme, registering news businesses, and maintaining a register of arbitrators," the minister said.

"We welcome the reports that Google and Facebook have reached commercial agreements with some news businesses for the use of their content, and encourage the parties to continue to negotiate deals in good faith.

"This is powerful evidence the Code is already doing its job."

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