Western Australia kicks in AU$20m for regional mobile blackspots

A funding increase compared to the AU$14.6 million kicked in last time.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Western Australia has said it will contribute AU$20.6 million in the fifth round of the Commonwealth government's mobile blackspots program.

Both of Australia's major parties had committed AU$160 million towards the mobile blackspots program in the 2019 election campaign.

In the most recent round of funding, the fourth one, 180 base stations were slated to be built by Telstra and Optus, with the former responsible for 131 and the latter getting 49.

Western Australia contributed AU$14.6 million in the fourth round, from which it gained 26 new mobile towers.

"While telecommunications is a federal responsibility, the McGowan government recognises that we cannot let our regional communities fall behind due to poor digital infrastructure," WA Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said in a statement.

"By putting AU$20.7 million on the table to leverage funding for mobile black spots, we are ensuring regional WA gets its fair share of federal investment."

At the start of 2017, Western Australia had put aside AU$22 million for its State Agricultural Telecommunications Infrastructure Improvement Fund to improve rural connectivity.

Earlier on Tuesday, the WA government also announced handing a pair of contracts to Australian business technology services provider Data#3 to solely supply the government and its agencies with Microsoft software.

The first contract covers providing Microsoft licensing to the WA government and will come into effect 12 June, while the second arrangement continues Data#3's incumbency with the Department of Education.

Last month, the government said it would spend AU$35 million to push its digital reform agenda.

The agenda will focus on improving delivery of online services; developing a data protection policy and strategy; building data analytics capabilities; supporting the implementation of information technology procurement reforms; and investigating strategies to reduce digital divides and digital disadvantages.

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