Federal communications minister Senator
Helen Coonan has extended her call for proposals on how to use
government funding to build bush broadband networks, bringing an
additional AU$113 million to the table for key rural services.
The extra money will come from the Clever Networks fund. Coonan has previously asked for proposals on how to use the
AU$878 million Broadband Connect package. Both are part of the overarching Connect Australia program.
Clever Networks comes from the same general pool of funding as
Broadband Connect, but is more focused on improving the delivery
of essential health and education services in the bush through
the use of technology, particularly broadband.
In a statement pre-empting comments tonight at a
telecommunications industry dinner in Sydney, Coonan said she was
releasing guidelines for attracting funding.
"I can announce that applications for the first round of
grants will close on 28 November 2006," she said.
As with the previous Broadband Connect call, with this new
funding Coonan is encouraging the industry to partner to attract
"A consortium approach is being encouraged with Clever
Networks to support partnerships and collaborations to deliver
projects of sufficient scale and scope to build on our earlier
successes," she said.
Coonan added additional investment in the program would come
from other levels of government.
"The Australian government funding will be at least matched by
investment from other levels of government, the private sector
and local communities," she said.
Coonan listed the following examples of services that could attract funding under Clever Networks:
- Assisting school students to access multimedia learning tools
- using technology to enable bush hospitals to access advice in emergencies
- enabling emergency services to obtain current weather forecasts during a bushfire