National Farmer’s Federation to run and design Australia’s regional digital tech hub

Elsewhere, Optus has switched on its 100th mobile blackspot site.

The Australian government has appointed the National Farmers' Federation (NFF) to design and operate a new digital technology hub aimed to assist regional, rural, and remote users access telecommunication services.

Selected through an open tender process, NFF will now work with the Better Internet for Rural Regional and Remote Australia on developing the hub.

"The NFF will provide a platform that is focussed on regional consumers and regional issues," Regional Communications Minister Mark Coulton said.

"The hub will be a resource for all regional, rural and remote Australians.

"People will be able to access support over the phone, through social media and online, to help solve issues with their phone and internet services, find the latest applications for their homes or businesses, and understand their rights as consumers and where to go to escalate faults."

The establishment of the hub is part of the federal government's AU$220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package, which was announced in March 2019 in response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

The review found that consumers in regional communities often lack knowledge about how to use different technologies and how to troubleshoot issues. It recommended that an online hub be developed to provide independent and factual information about the digital choices people have in regional areas.

"We recognise that regional Australians have unique needs and face different challenges when it comes to digital communications," Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said.

"The new digital tech hub will support people in regional Australia with information to find the right telecommunication solutions for their homes and businesses, and better harness the benefits of connectivity and technology."

The hub is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Additionally, Optus has hit a milestone with its mobile blackspot program, announcing it has switched on its 100th site at Boreen Point, a rural Queensland town in the Shire of Noosa.

Optus boasted the site, which is co-located on an existing tower along Lake Flat Road, will provide coverage to Boreen Point and surrounds, including a sailing and fishing spot of Lake Cootharaba, more than 640 homes, and more than 80 square kilometres of area surround the site.

Optus, together with the federal and state governments will deliver a total of 47 mobile blackspot sites across Queensland.

"We're investing AU$380 million in improved network infrastructure so people across Australia -- including those living in or visiting Boreen Point -- can rely on high quality mobile services to conduct business, study and stay in touch with family and friends," Fletcher said. 

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