New online hub to help regional Aussies 'make the most' of what tech is available

A tender for the online hub has been published, 18 months after the recommendation was made.

The federal government is looking to stand up a digital tech hub to support regional, rural, and remote Australians to "make the most" of digital communications available in their area.

In an approach to market (ATM), the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications has sought the provision of an online Regional Digital Technology Hub, fulfilling part of the government's response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

The department expects the online hub would provide the target audience with independent information about the choice of digital technologies and applications available to them, and to help them build the skills and confidence to make the most of digital technologies.

"The objective of the Digital Tech Hub is to help regional, rural and remote Australians get connected and stay connected," the department wrote.

"In meeting its objective, the Digital Tech Hub will provide resources to support rural and remote consumers of telecommunications services to make the most of digital technologies, increase their skills and confidence, and solve common issues by assisting them to get online and navigate available resources."

The hub is expected to host information resources for rural, regional, and remote consumers, as well as links to third-party resources, including regulators, consumer peak bodies, and retailers. It would also link to relevant third-party providers of telecommunications services, the ATM documents explained.

Resources must include information on how to get connected to the internet, such as the best type of connection to suit specific needs in a particular area, for example, NBN connection type, alternate fixed wireless providers, and mobile service.

It would also provide information on routers and modems, advice on how to choose a provider and evaluate value for money in plans, and "legal equipment" to enhance mobile signals.

Information on how to stay connected, such as troubleshooting a connection, how to escalate issues or faults with a connected service, consumer rights about a user's connection, and information on changes in technology and services would also need to be available.

The ATM specifies the hub must also provide information on how to use an existing connection, such as how to view and understand data usage, how to use off-peak data, explain basic digital literacy skills involved in getting and staying connected, how to set up a generic email account, and how to remain secure while online.

Resources on "innovative" residential and business applications for available communications technologies, specifically those relevant in the regional, rural, and remote context must also be included, along with resources to assist local communities with digital planning.

The successful company would be responsible for the design, development, and management of the project, which also includes managing social media channels and an email address, the ATM said.

It would also have to maintain ownership of the website throughout the term of the contract, including any extensions, with the exception of ownership of visitor data, which will belong exclusively to the department. At the end of the contract period, ownership of the website would revert to the department, or be granted to a third party, the ATM documents stated.

Additionally, the department said Digital Tech Hub personnel should have or be able to quickly gain broad knowledge of regional telecommunications technologies. They must also have a good working knowledge of the day-to-day use of IT technology and be able to employ it in troubleshooting common issues over the phone, or online.

The contract will end on 30 September 2021, and includes an option for extension.

Submissions close 6 July 2020.

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