• New infrastructure promises to improve internet connectivity to communities on the Tiwi Islands (ABC)Source: ABC
Internet connection will be improved at Wurrumiyanga, Pirlangimpi, and Milikapiti, where constant outages hamper business, and affect everyday life.
Dan Butler

10 Mar 2021 - 12:22 AM  UPDATED 10 Mar 2021 - 12:22 AM

Three Tiwi Islands communities are the first to benefit in a four-year project aimed at strengthening poor communications infrastructure in the region.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn today joined NT Minister for Corporate and Digital Development Paul Kirby in a tour of the new infrastructure to officially recognise the completion of the latest work.

It includes improvements to internet connection at Wurrumiyanga, Pirlangimpi, and Milikapiti.

Minister Kirby said it would be a boon to the economic and social life in the communities.

'All Territorians deserve access to reliable mobile phone and internet services,' said Mr Kirby in a statement.

'Wurrumiyanga, Pirlangimpi and Milikapiti, on the iconic Tiwi Islands, are the first communities to benefit from the current $28M co-investment program, with more to come. Our Government will go the extra mile for people living in the bush.'

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn echoed the Minister’s sentiments, and said the work was a vital step forward for the area.

'Good telecommunications infrastructure is fundamental to overcoming disadvantage in regional and remote communities.  Connectivity is an essential service – providing access to education, work, social interaction.'

The Tiwi Islands have suffered from poor communications infrastructure far below the standards of metropolitan Australia, impacting business and everyday life. Locals are hoping the new infrastructure will make a change.

'We've got crap connection. It's terrible,' says Dianne Davies, studio coordinator at Tiwi Designs, an outlet that represents local Indigenous artists.

'It’s hard running a business, we go the old slide style of taking cards… [If the internet is down] I can’t do internet banking, so I can’t pay artists, who are all local mob.'

Ms Davies said internet outages were a constant problem.

'Every business has to pay for two connections, the Telstra service and a satellite dish as well. As soon as there’s some cloud the satellite goes, and as soon as there's rain the Telstra [connection] goes… So we're hopeful [the new work] is going to answer all of those problems.'