Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
Queenslanders across remote island communities in the Torres Strait will benefit from better mobile network coverage and connectivity, thanks to a new $7.32 million project aimed at closing the digital divide.
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the Palaszczuk Government has collaborated with Telstra and the Torres Strait Regional Authority to deliver the Torres Strait 4G project, which will see high-speed internet access for mobile device users across 14 of the region’s islands by 2021.
“This is fantastic news and will have a huge impact on how we keep in touch and improve education and grow business in our community,” Ms Lui said.
“As digital technology rapidly advances it is vital for everyone to be able to keep pace, especially in remote areas.”
“A large barrier between the islands and mainland is technology and communication, so this upgrade to 4G will ensure we can stay connected which will enhance how we work and learn.”
Ministerial Champion for the Torres Strait Shannon Fentiman said the upgraded network will transform the way police, education and health providers work and communicate.
“We know there can be challenges living, learning and doing business in remote areas of our state,” Ms Fentiman said.
“Having access to more reliable and faster internet will support our local communities in the Torres Strait to stay connected and help local businesses to grow.
“It’s fantastic to see this project will create more local jobs as the work commences across the islands over the next two years.”
Minister for Digital Technology Mick de Brenni said the state was responding to the needs of Queenslanders by improving connectivity in the Torres Strait to enable social and economic benefits.
“Every Queenslander, including those in remote and outlying regional areas, deserve to have access to better mobile phone coverage and fast internet,” Mr de Brenni said.
“Currently, many islands across the Torres Strait have patchy coverage, if they do have it at all, while some only have 3G services.
“We’re fixing the connection from the islands to the mainland to deliver high-speed data services to support local businesses and government agencies.”
The new project builds on the government’s ongoing commitment to improved digital connectivity in the Torres Strait region and is in addition to $410,000 in co-funding to deliver a 4G base station at Erub island in 2018 as part of the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot program.
Telstra Regional General Manager Rachel Cliffe said Telstra was proud to be part of this project, that would provide greater connectivity to customers in the Torres Strait.
“Telstra takes its responsibility to bridge the digital divide between the city and remote Australian communities very seriously, which is why we’ve already delivered a number of projects in the Torres Strait to enable customers to access faster fixed line broadband, make mobile calls and access fast wireless data,” Ms Cliffe said.
“This investment is all about digital inclusion and ensuring that no matter where you live in Queensland, you can enjoy the endless opportunities that come from being online.
“We look forward to working with all sectors of the community in the future, to drive greater digital inclusion for all our customers in Far North Queensland and right across this great state.”
Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) Chairperson Mr Napau Pedro Stephen AM, said: “We look forward to seeing the outcomes as the Torres Strait Digital Expansion Project delivers improved telecommunications infrastructure for the people and protection of the Torres Strait.
“It is also an important upgrade for our business community, education and health services who will benefit from the improved connectivity.”
Torres Strait Island Regional Council Mayor Cr. Fred Gela described the upgrade in service as being “critical for the delivery of online government services to local people and ensuring equitable access to the benefits of the knowledge economy”.
“Our region currently has limited access to NBN satellite services for internet connectivity – this project will build considerably on that capacity and deliver significant local benefits to the communities of the Torres Strait.”
The project will be funded under a partnership agreement between Telstra, the Queensland Government and the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA).
Telstra will contribute $3.66 million while $2.26 million will be provided by the State Government and TSRA will contribute the remaining $1.4 million.
This is part of a long-term commitment by the Queensland government, Federal Government Department of Agriculture, Telstra and TSRA.
The expansion project is capable of delivering the technology and innovation needed, to protect our borders and multiple social, economic, educational, health and community safety outcomes for communities across the region.
Media contact: Inga Williams - 0439 949 719 (Minister Fentiman)
Rosie Gilbert – 0466 834 330 (Minister de Brenni)
Danita Goodwin – 0439 886 652 (Telstra)
James Aspin – 0468 353 318 (TSRA)
Luke Ranga – 0427 794 730 (TSIRC)