What started as an idea to improve communications and sharing of data on a farm near the southern NSW town of Coolac is now revolutionising communications black spot areas in remote and rural NSW and Queensland.
In April 2020, Region Media brought you the story of Jock Graham and his pioneering path to improve the lot of farmers and residents still caught in a data time warp that left them without access to high-speed broadband, and in many cases, no reliable mobile phone coverage.
It was only a matter of time before buzz on the bush telegraph reached Canberra and the ears of Jock’s local MP, Deputy Prime Minster Michael McCormack, who last week announced a significant funding enhancement through the Federal Government’s Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) that will allow Jock and his Wi-Sky team greater capacity.
The funding will immediately benefit people living and working in the Cootamundra-Gundagai, Hilltops and Snowy Valleys local government areas, who can now look forward to new and improved telecommunications services.
Mr McCormack said Wi-Sky has been awarded a total $479,000 through the RCP to boost connectivity in the three local government areas, with $278,000 allocated to Hilltops, and $201,000 to Cootamundra-Gundagai and Snowy Valleys.
Mr McCormack said the Wi-Sky projects are 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 RCP.
The Wi-Sky project in Cootamundra-Gundagai and Snowy Valleys local government areas 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 local government areas.
The Hilltops project will mirror this using 28 low-impact interlinked ‘poles’ across the local government area, which includes the towns of Boorowa, Harden-Murrumburrah, Jugiong, Young and their outlying villages.
It will improve connectivity across a wide area which currently has limited existing broadband and mobile phone coverage.
The projects will provide people in those communities with access to improved broadband services and data – delivering fast, affordable and reliable connectivity.
Jock, Wi-Sky’s managing director, has 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,” he 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.”
Mr McCormack, the Member for Riverina, said he’s delighted the government is delivering this improved service.
“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 reach out for help in an emergency,” he said.