Regional communities in the Mid-West and Gascoyne are benefitting from newly completed communications infrastructure funded by the McGowan Government.
The $5 million Digital Farm Grants program has reached a milestone with the Chapman Valley-Northampton fixed wireless network now fully operational and boasting 37 new service connections.
Project completion has been well-timed during the COVID-19 pandemic, with families practising on-farm social distancing in the region resulting in a spike in requests for connections.
The McGowan Government has provided $1 million to the Mid-West rollout, with a further $1.5 million of cash and value-in-kind contributed by local shires, grower groups and network and information technology company LogicIT Solutions.
LogicIT and infrastructure builder ML Communications (both Geraldton-based) are constructing the network and providing the communications towers for the project, with broadband services provided to farmers through retail service provider Node1 Internet.
High-speed broadband services are currently being provided to the Shires of Chapman Valley, Northampton, Irwin, Mingenew, Three Springs, Coorow, Carnamah, Morawa, Perenjori, and parts of the City of Greater Geraldton.
The second Mid-West Digital Farm network, in the North Midlands, is due for completion by the end of June.
Mobile coverage in the Gascoyne region has also been expanded with a new mobile base station at East Carnarvon, which is equipped with 3G and 4GX to provide businesses, residents and visitors with access to fast and reliable mobile broadband.
The work has been completed under the Mobile Black Spot Program, which is co-funded by the Federal Government, Telstra and the McGowan Government’s Regional Telecommunications Project.
The new base station will complement the Gascoyne Food Bowl initiative by expanding mobile coverage along the Gascoyne River east of the North West Coastal Highway.
As stated by Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“The McGowan Government is investing in faster and more reliable broadband and mobile communications for regional, rural and remote Western Australia.
“The Digital Farm Grants program will allow more than 500 farming Mid-West businesses outside the National Broadband Network’s fixed line and fixed wireless footprint to access business-grade internet with greater data capacity and speeds up to ten times faster than previously available, at a monthly cost to end users comparable to metropolitan area plans.
“The McGowan Government-supported Mobile Black Spot Program has provided Gascoyne region farmers with the improved mobile coverage they need to support their staff, packing shed operations and ‘Internet of things’ applications.
“These two project milestones provide a timely boost during the COVID-19 pandemic, when access to reliable communications technologies has never been more critical.
“Farmers need reliable enterprise-grade broadband internet and mobile coverage to stay competitive in an interconnected and highly-competitive global market.”
As stated by Agricultural Region MLC Darren West:
“For two decades, farmers have been waiting for these services and the McGowan Government is delivering.
“This important investment will give farming businesses the opportunity to access enterprise-grade broad band services with much higher speeds and band width.
“I am proud to be a part of the McGowan Government that recognises the importance of the future of agriculture and is delivering real solutions.
“I am also pleased that local Geraldton companies are involved, adding to the local economy and providing local jobs.”