[30 August/ Stuff]

Federated Farmers said Government’s announcement to spend an extra $270 million improving rural broadband and plugging cell phone blackspots is more than expected. The spending is an addition to the $150m the Government had originally allocated to rural broadband and cell phone needs through the second stage of its Rural Broadband Initiative, RBI2. $140m has been allocated to RBI2 to extend the wireless broadband services subsidised to another 74,000 homes and businesses. $130m will be spent on expanding fibre-optic ultrafast broadband to another 60,000 homes and businesses in 190 towns. This will mean ultrafast broadband will be available to 87 percent of the population exceeding the 85 percent target. A Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees joint venture has won a $250m RBI2 contract and will share the 400 or more cell phone towers they will build with the RBI2 subsidy, but compete in providing services to rural homes.