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Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has welcomed the announcement of $2.63 million for the installation of a fibre optic path between Tambo Crossing and Swifts Creek to improve mobile reception.

Mr Chester said the installation of a 42-kilometre fibre path will create a transmission ring between Bairnsdale, Melbourne, and Wangaratta.

“This multi-million dollar upgrade will provide new or improved mobile coverage at locations along the route, including Mt Hotham, Ensay, Tambo Crossing, Omeo and Dinner Plain,” Mr Chester said.

“It will provide additional resilience to the Telstra mobile network in a high-risk bushfire region by providing multiple fibre optic paths for communities along the route.”

Mr Chester said better mobile connectivity would support businesses in a number of highly visited tourist locations including Omeo and the Alpine region, stimulating growth opportunities.

“Improved connectivity, whether it be mobile phone or internet coverage, is essential throughout our region for communication and economic growth,” Mr Chester said.

Federal Regional Communications Minister, Mark Coulton said the government is listening to the digital needs of regional communities and businesses, and has used the Regional Connectivity Program (RCP) to design and deliver place-based solutions that solve rural connectivity issues.

“The government has taken a collaborative approach in delivering the RCP and has engaged with the telecommunications industry and regional communities to make sure the funded projects are tailored to the needs and priorities of each region and are supported by the local community,” Minister Coulton said.

The Federal Government is contributing $90.3 million to the RCP, generating total new investment of more than $180 million through co-contributions from funding recipients, state and territory governments and other third parties, such as local governments, regional businesses and community development organisations.

The program is a key component of the government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, and the delivery of successful projects under the program will begin in the coming weeks with projects expected to be completed by June 2022. More detail on individual projects will be announced over coming weeks.

The installation of the fibre optic path is one of four Gippsland projects that will share in more than $90 million in funding under the Regional Connectivity Program. Other projects to receive funding under this round include a new small cell upgrade for Cabbage Tree Creek and Toongabbie and a new base station for Gipsy Point.

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