HORSHAM will form part of a $7-million initiative to boost broadband services in regional areas.
The city – along with Morwell and north Geelong – has been selected for a state government initiative, which will trial solutions to improve broadband for businesses in or considering investing in regional Victoria.
The project aims to give regional businesses a better chance of competing with metropolitan, interstate and international businesses.
The government has released a Request for Proposal to the market, to find a supplier to lead the Horsham project.
Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal and the city’s enterprise estate, airport precinct and central activity district are being considered among the areas that could be serviced by enhanced broadband.
The government has also announced Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership will receive a slice of $1 million to devise a digital plan assessing the region’s needs and priorities.
The program will include investigative fieldwork and will map services including mobile coverage, fixed broadband for businesses, and digital hubs.
The Wimmera Southern Mallee partnership and its eight counterparts across the state all identified digital infrastructure improvements as a key priority for their regions after the partnerships were established two years ago.
Wimmera Southern Mallee Regional Partnership chairman David Jochinke said the group was focused on establishing decent digital coverage across the region.
He said this would help drive improved productivity and innovation in agricultural, business and research sectors.
“In addition, we recognise that by lifting the region’s digital uptake and infrastructure, we hope to address some of the persistent barriers of time, distance and isolation that impact on our region's ability to access quality services, especially in the education and health sectors,” he said.
The first phase of the Wimmera Southern Mallee plan is due to be finalised by mid-2018.
The Horsham broadband project is due to start in the second half of the year and be completed in late 2019.
Both projects will be funded through the government’s $45-million Connecting Regional Communities Program.