Home & Office

Australia brings telecoms to indigenous communities

Projects to supply communities with internet and phone access have received grants from the Australian government
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

The Australian government has announced a slew of grants to projects which it hopes will extend communications coverage to remote indigenous communities, as part of a AU$36.6m (£14.8m) telecommunications improvement program.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) announced 35 schemes across 130 communities, which will receive almost AU$2m in funding.

The projects are focused on advancing web skills, training, creating indigenous-language online content, including business portals, setting up videoconferencing facilities and installing community internet-access programmes.

Internet access will be brought to 84 communities by 21 applicants, who will receive hardware, software and content filters. They will also get funding to help meet running and maintenance costs until the end of June 2010.

The majority of the projects are based in Queensland or the Northern Territory.

According to the Australian government, 300 so-called "community phones" will be established in indigenous areas from 2008. The phones will be housed in ruggedised casings and are destined for "shared public use", operated with prepaid cards.

The locations of communities that will receive the phones will be announced "shortly", according to the communications minister.

DCITA is now looking for vendors to install and maintain the phones and is calling for expressions of interest from suppliers who will help determine which technologies and services will be associated with the phones.

Editorial standards