A boost to connectivity in Hilltops

Back - Hilltops Mayor, Brian Ingram and Snowy Valleys Mayor, James Hayes. Front - Minister for Regional Communications Mark Coulton, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council Mayor Abb McAlister.
Back - Hilltops Mayor, Brian Ingram and Snowy Valleys Mayor, James Hayes. Front - Minister for Regional Communications Mark Coulton, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council Mayor Abb McAlister.

New telecommunications services will be available to people living and working in Hilltops thanks to the Federal Government's Regional Connectivity Program (RCP).

Local company Wi-Sky has been awarded a total of $479,000 through the RCP to boost connectivity in the three local government areas (LGA) - $278,000 in the Hilltops LGA and $201,000 in the Cootamundra-Gundagai and Snowy Valleys LGAs.

Federal Member for Hume Angus Taylor said the project will boost connectivity by providing high-speed broadband to homes and businesses.

Hilltops Mayor, Councillor Brian Ingram with Member for Hume, Angus Taylor.

Hilltops Mayor, Councillor Brian Ingram with Member for Hume, Angus Taylor.

"The fixed wireless network in Hilltops will consist of 28 low impact interlinked 'poles' to provide high-speed broadband services, using an innovative, low-cost and disaster-resilient design suited to local conditions," Mr Taylor said.

"I'm thrilled that residents and businesses in Boorowa will enjoy the benefits and opportunities that improved digital connectivity brings. The project, provided by WI-SKY NSW, will allow people right across the Hilltops region who in the past have had very poor connectivity with access to improved broadband services and data packages."

Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Riverina Michael McCormack said the Wi-Sky projects were among 81 place-based solutions to digital connectivity issues in the regions through a range of mobile and broadband services made possible by the $90 million program.

The Wi-Sky project in Hilltops will boost connectivity by creating an extended fixed wireless network comprising 28 low impact interlinked 'poles' to provide high-speed broadband services across the LGA.

The Cootamundra-Gundagai and Snowy Valleys LGAs project will boost connectivity by creating an extended fixed wireless network comprising 21 low-impact interlinked 'poles' to provide high-speed residential and enterprise broadband services across the neighbouring LGAs.

It will improve connectivity over a wide area which currently has limited existing broadband and mobile phone coverage.

"No matter where they live, connectivity is vital to people for so many reasons, whether it's to stay in touch with friends and family, run a business, study or to reach out for help in an emergency, so I'm delighted the Government is delivering this improved service," Mr McCormack said.

Wi-Sky managing director Jock Graham welcomed news of the grants.

"I am sincerely grateful the Government has taken the opportunity to support smaller, regional-based telecommunications companies which can offer great services," Mr Graham said.

"Wi-Sky has grown its small network from Gundagai to now covering more than two million hectares in southern NSW.

"These grants are a win for remote and regional communities."

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said the RCP was part of the Government's ongoing commitment to bring the digital economy to the regions, complementing the National Broadband Network and the Mobile Black Spot Program.

"The Regional Connectivity Program is providing targeted upgrades to connectivity in regional areas that need it the most, ensuring that more Australians can access high-speed, reliable broadband and mobile services," Mr Fletcher said.

Federal Regional Communications Minister Mark Coulton said the Government was listening to the digital needs of regional communities and businesses and had used the RCP to design and deliver place-based solutions which solved rural connectivity issues.

"The Government has taken a collaborative approach in delivering the RCP and has engaged with the telecommunications industry and regional communities to make sure the funded projects are tailored to the needs and priorities of each region and are supported by the local community," Mr Coulton said.

The delivery of successful projects under the program will begin in the coming weeks with projects expected to be completed by June 2022.