$863K helps fill digital black-holes around the Mungindi district

PROMOTING business development, increasing access to tele-health and improving quality of life for residents along the New South Wales-Queensland border are just some of the benefits to be delivered from an $863,197 digital connectivity project announced by Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall in Moree on Thursday.

Funded by the NSW Government, Mr Marshall said the Moree Plains-Balonne Cross Border Digital Connectivity Project was the result of a 12-month collaboration between the two border councils, which have been working to improve essential services and infrastructure around Mungindi and the border region.

He said considerable gaps in the existing telecommunications network around Mungindi would be plugged by new towers and connections.

“Despite rapid developments in digital communications over the past decade many rural communities are still plagued by mobile blackspots and lagging, impractical internet connections,” Mr Marshall said.

“To overcome some of these obstacles in and around Mungindi the existing internet network will be upgraded to establish a back-up connection from Sydney or Brisbane, in case the current link to Thallon goes down.

“Also, four new telecommunications towers will be built in strategic locations along the border, increasing coverage in both local government areas.”

Filling in the digital black holes around Mungindi and the border region, Field Solutions Group Head of Business Development Greg McCormack, left, CEO Philippe Benoliel, Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall and Moree Plains Shire Council Director of Planning and Community Development Angus Witherby at the announcement on Thursday.

Mr Marshall said the benefits to the Mungindi community and surrounding residents and farmers couldn’t be overstated.

“Upgraded communications infrastructure will give existing local agri-businesses confidence to invest in new technologies that make their operations more efficient and will help increase their income,” he said.

“For the wider Mungindi community there is potential for advanced tele-health services, increased coverage to contact emergency services and much faster and reliable access to online streaming services.

“Establishing stable high-speed internet is the one thing that can work to break down the city-country divide, which inhibits people potentially relocating to fantastic areas like Mungindi.

“I congratulate both councils, whose leadership and collaboration have resulted in significant improvements to the standard of living for local residents.”

Moree Plains Shire Council’s Director of Planning and Community Development Angus Witherby said the project would enable future-proofing for digital connectivity on both sides of the NSW and Queensland border.

“The Moree Plains-Balonne Cross Border Digital Connectivity Project will improve service delivery in a critical area of infrastructure required in this day and age – being high speed internet,” Mr Witherby said.

“Telecommunications provider Field Solutions has already been appointed to deliver the infrastructure, which we hope will be installed and operational by the end of this year.

“This initiative will improve internet connectivity in the Mungindi area and deliver on objectives that are consistent with NSW, Queensland and Federal Government policies.”

Balonne Shire Mayor Samantha O’Toole said the program would address a fundamental need for better data connectivity across both shires.

“The partnership between our shires, along with the assistance from NSW Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales Adam Marshall, has provided a turning point for connectivity in our region,” Cr O’Toole said.

“This program gives our shires the best opportunity to access significantly improved coverage and connectivity, which will provide opportunities for business retention and expansion and enable innovation, as well as improving access to education and health, disaster management capabilities and overall liveability.

“We would like to acknowledge and commend the NSW Government for the important contribution it is making towards solving cross-border challenges through the introduction of the Cross-Border Commissioner’s Infrastructure Fund and its commitment to support infrastructure projects with social, economic, environmental or cultural benefits.”

Rural telecommunications company Field Solutions Group has been appointed to deliver the project by both councils.

Media Release: Friday, February 26, 2021