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Media Release, 16 October 2015

Remote communities across the Northern Territory will have new or additional telecommunications services as part of a three year agreement between the Northern Territory Government and Telstra.

Chief Minister Adam Giles said Telstra and Governments at all levels were working to expand and improve telecommunications throughout the Territory with more than $40 million invested through a range of programs.

“Northern Territory remote communities that will benefit from having telecommunications services installed under the new co-investment program with Telstra include Umbakumba, Bulman, Weemol, Minyerri, Kaltukatjara, Yarralin, Manyallaluk and Titjikala,” he said.

“Over the next three years, these communities will receive mobile phone services and, where possible, fixed broadband services, subject to the outcomes of detailed feasibility studies Telstra will carry out over coming months.

“To broaden the benefits of the co-investment program, communities such as Ali Curung, Barunga and Timber Creek, that already have 3G mobile phone services will now get fixed broadband services installed.

“Other communities may also be considered after further feasibility studies.”

Telstra Area General Manager for the Northern Territory, Nic Danks said access to the new communications services would be life changing for many people living in these remote communities.

“The new telecommunications infrastructure will give the residents and visitors of these communities new opportunities to drive commerce, share stories online, access information and entertainment,” he said.

“As part of Telstra’s ongoing commitment to the Territory, and as a key part of our third Reconciliation Action Plan, we’ve also committed an additional investment of $4.05 million over three years to deliver digital literacy initiatives, cyber safety programs and telehealth services.”

Mr Giles said the list of communities was chosen based on factors such as population, costs, community considerations, potential business benefits, existing or planned telecommunications infrastructure, and services along transport corridors.

“This remote telecommunications infrastructure program will bring vital services to the bush and improve the lives of thousands of people living and working in remote communities throughout the Territory,” he said.

“Detailed consultation and engagement will be carried out with the communities to ensure they are supportive, ready and have a strong say in the services to be delivered. Community wishes will be respected and changes may be made to the program in the future if a community has a strong preference not to take up telecommunications services.

“We will also explore opportunities to work in with the Australian Government’s Mobile Black Spot Programme, which will see $5 million invested to roll out new or upgraded base stations at Finke, Imanpa, Minjilang, Mount Liebig and Wallace Rockhole.”

Mr Giles said the new Telstra/Northern Territory Government co-investment program continued the strong relationship between the Northern Territory Government and Telstra.

“Telstra has already proven its commitment to connecting the bush by joining the Territory Government in a $5.76 million phone and internet project for remote communities that was completed last year,” he said.