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Browse our news stories about the activities and achievements of Queensland local councils and learn more about the challenges and issues affecting local government and their communities.

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Filling the NBN gap in rural telecommunications

In a telecommunication win for rural Queensland, the town of Yaraka in Longreach Shire now has access to fast and reliable internet thanks to the installation of a mobile phone tower on nearby Mt Slowcombe.

The town of 117 people had been identified as a mobile black spot and relied on an exhausted interim satellite service.

LGAQ innovation executive Lou Boyle said the infrastructure upgrade was the result of a productive collaboration between local and federal government and industry.The town of Yaraka in Longreach Shire how has fast and reliable internet thanks to a sucessful collaboration between government and industry.

“From a mobile engineering perspective, Mt Slowcombe was ideal," he said.

"We lobbied for the base station to be built on Mt Slowcombe and not in Yarakah and we were successful. The LGAQ committed $50,000 from our Industry Development Fund with Telstra and the State and Federal Government contributing the rest,” Mr Boyle said.  

Longreach Shire Mayor Ed Warren said the initiative was a game changer.

“For that community, it has really been ground-breaking to be connected through mobile phones and the internet, not only for the residents but also for tourists,’’ he said.

The project is the latest of several efforts by councils and LGAQ to fill gaps where the National Broadband Network has not provided connectivity to remote areas.

Despite a commitment of $20.3 billion in the NBN so far, Mr Boyle said a contributing factor to the lack of connectivity for all Queenslanders was the State’s sheer size and distances between centres.

“The NBN has not met connectivity needs for all rural and regional areas but it’s often these areas that need it the most, particularly when it comes to health and education,” He said.

“The success in Yaraka exemplifies the LGAQ’s approach to telecommunications infrastructure; if you think that participation in the digital economy is all about connectivity, well - we are focused on connectivity.

“Our goal is to have every town that is a local government centre, hooked up to a good network, and that has been my driver for the last seven years.”

Further to the Yaraka project, LGAQ has also been working closely with the town of Yarrabah which is set to switch over to high speed ADSL broadband by the end of June thanks to an upgrade to its core radio infrastructure and exchange.  The LGAQ both lobbied for the project to be established as a capital works program and contributed half of the $140, 000 project.

Mr Boyle said an important ideology behind LGAQ’s telecommunications efforts was to make the most of resources already available, update technology where possible and combat the idea that if you don’t have the NBN you can’t participate in the digital economy,

“Obviously, the fibre optic NBN is the gold standard but where it’s too remote or too out of the way the LGAQ is working hard to fill the gaps and improve other networks where we can.” Mr Boyle said.