The federal government has opened up its $50 million natural disaster telco resiliency program to applicants, with individual grants of up to $5 million up for grabs.
Named the Telecommunications Disaster Resilience Innovation (TDRI) program, the government is looking for projects to improve the resilience of the nation’s telecommunications network during natural disasters, particularly in rural, regional, remote and First Nations communities.
The TDRI program is split between two concurrent rounds – the Power Resilience Round and the Innovation Round.
The first has a pool of $30 million and is focused on solutions to reduce the impact of power outages, which the government claimed is the leading cause of telco disruptions during natural disasters.
Meanwhile, the second has a pool of $20 million and is aimed at funding earlier-stage technologies to improve the resiliency, redundancy and availability of telco services during natural disasters.
The grants on offer are generally available to mobile network operators (MNO), mobile network infrastructure providers (MNIP), NBN Co and or companies with an ABN with relevant expertise or experience.
"Access to telecommunications coverage during a natural disaster can be the difference between life and death," said Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland. “While no network is ever 100 per cent disaster-proof, the Albanese government is determined to do what we can to boost the resilience of our telecommunications networks.
“The new Telecommunications Disaster Resilience Innovation program will fund a wide range of innovative local projects across Australia to reduce the likelihood of telco outages during disasters.
“I strongly encourage the sector to engage with communities across the country to develop and submit proposals that will ensure Australians are able to stay connected when they need it most.”
The TDRI program is part of the government’s $1.1 billion Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia from the 2022-23 Budget. Another measure from the program includes a $10 million increase in funding for round three of the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) to support First Nations people in Central Australia, which was announced in April.