FNQ Digital Connectivity Needs Analysis: Qualitative insights to inform technical solutions for improved telecommunications in Northern Gulf communities

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Marshall, Amber
Dale, Allan
Wilson, Carrie-Ann
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This project brought together Northern Gulf property owners, councils, development organisations, technical experts, and service providers to collaboratively identify and define mobile, telecommunications, and broadband failures during the 2019 monsoon trough and recovery phase, and devise novel technical solutions and systemic improvement options for the future. This needs analysis sought to understand the digital connectivity needs of Northern Gulf residents to directly inform digital connectivity technical solutions that ‘work’ in and for remote communities. Through direct engagement with 100+ people, we canvased mobile and internet experiences, requirements, and possible solutions in three stages from October 2020 to March 2021. This included: • Face-to-face and Zoom interviews with approximately 25 residents across the Northern Gulf from various sectors and locations to understand individual digital connectivity needs; • Three community engagement workshops held in Croydon, Einasleigh and Dimbulah, involving 60+ participants to understand the lived experience of digital connectivity in the region; and, • An online survey focused on prioritisation of needs and possible solutions identified in the interviews and workshops. Emergent priorities and opportunities for improved digital connectivity and outcomes in the Northern Gulf fell into five categories. 1. Remote domestic telecommunications: Improved access to voice and text across properties. 2. Agricultural digital technologies: Access to Internet of Things (IoT) technologies for improved productivity. 3. Connectivity for community events and visitors: Increased mobile/broadband capacity for influx of visitors. 4. Enterprise-grade connections for businesses: Improved services (speed, data, latency) for reliable connections for technologies supporting critical sales processes. 5. Robust telecommunications for disaster response: Improved coverage and inter-operability of mobile networks with independence from other critical infrastructure. Overall, this needs analysis points to three key directions for mobile and broadband solutions for the Northern Gulf region. 1. Digital literacy and awareness: Broadscale education of end users is required to address under-utilisation of existing infrastructure and services, for social and economic outcomes. 2. Last mile solutions: Where major infrastructure is not being connected through to homes, businesses, and organisations, end users need options for investment in modest hardware to get connected. 3. Strategic infrastructure investment: Develop regional partnerships and co-investment models to advocate for, plan, and execute significant projects that address backhaul shortfalls across the Gulf and Cape Peninsula. This report should be read in conjunction with the Technical Audit and Strategy Document.

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This report should be read in conjunction with the Technical Audit and Strategy Document:


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Communication technology and digital media studies

Rural community development

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Marshall, A; Dale, A; Wilson, C-A, FNQ Digital Connectivity Needs Analysis: Qualitative insights to inform technical solutions for improved telecommunications in Northern Gulf communities, 2021