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A boost for broadband services in the bush

10 September 2007

THE National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) endorses signing of the OPEL Network’s wholesale broadband project contract, between the Australian Government and the Optus Elders joint venture.

“The ability to access a metro-comparable quality broadband service is of paramount importance to farmers and rural communities,” NFF CEO Ben Fargher said.

“When combined with the perpetual $2 billion Communications Fund, and the recently announced next phase of the Australian Broadband Guarantee (ABG), rural and regional Australians can continue to access affordable quality broadband services and have a guarantee of tangible metro-comparable services into the future.”

With the OPEL Network’s project due for completion by June 2009, farmers and rural communities have the opportunity to competitively choose retail broadband offerings based on price and government guaranteed service quality.

“That farmers will have a choice of providers for a metro-comparable online service into the future is a major leap in delivering essential broadband access in the bush,” Mr Fargher noted.

“Quality affordable telecommunications services in rural Australia has been a keystone of the NFF’s telecommunications policy and that families and businesses in rural Australia can now experience the myriad of online services available worldwide, on an equitable basis with other Australians, is an example of the improvements to the business and social fabric of rural Australia.”

The recently announced ABG focuses on providing an Australian Government subsidised broadband service today, in areas that do not currently have access to a traditional metro-comparable service.

Providers are only approved after meeting rigorous criteria and agreeing to deliver a service that meets minimum quality standards.

“This new stage of the ABG is the latest in a suite of initiatives that is delivering access to the broad range of online services that are essential to rural Australians,” Mr Fargher said.

“The NFF looks forward to the timely rollout of the OPEL wholesale service and the retail offerings that will follow. This will set the scene for the use of future and ongoing technology advances that will ensure equitable telecommunication services will be delivered to all Australians in the decades ahead.”

[ENDS]

Media Enquiries: Brett Heffernan on (02) 6273 3855 or 0408 448 250

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