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NFF calls for rural telecoms fix, Government listens

6 February 2013

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has welcomed today’s announcement by the Federal Government that internet speeds in rural and remote Australia will double.

NFF President Jock Laurie applauded the decision, which will see fixed-wireless speeds increase from June, and satellite from 2015.

“We firmly believe that farming families, rural businesses and communities should have comparable accessibility, reliability, quality and affordability in their telecommunications as those in urban areas do,” Mr Laurie said.

“We’ve been saying this to the Government for a long time – most recently through our Budget Submission just last week – and it’s good to see that they are listening.

“This time last year the Government announced the building of two new satellites to deliver high speed broadband to those who would miss out on the National Broadband Network – today, they have announced that internet speeds in rural and remote Australia will double, ensuring speeds as good as or faster than ADSL2+ services currently available in the cities.

“We’re also pleased to note that the Government will ensure uniform national wholesale pricing for these increased speeds, which means farms and rural businesses will pay the same wholesale price as people in the cities for the equivalent service – as recommended by last year’s Rural Telecommunications Review.

“This decision is about ensuring rural and regional Australians are not disadvantaged when it comes to telecommunications and we look forward to working with the Government and the Opposition to ensure the agriculture sector can unlock the potential of the infrastructure provided and participate in the digital economy.

“While today’s announcement is very positive in terms of internet accessibility, it is important to note that telecommunications do not end there. Many people in rural areas are still struggling with poor mobile coverage – something that those in urban areas take for granted.

“Having faster internet speeds and equivalent pricing is excellent – but many farmers and rural business can’t take advantage of new technologies and telecommunications options because of limited mobile coverage.

“The Regional Telecommunications Review noted that rural and remote Australians are keen to use the benefits of mobile devices in their everyday lives but that there are commercial limitations to expanding the mobile network coverage.

“While today’s announcement is a great step forward, we still look forward to the day when all Australia’s have equal access to telecommunications,” Mr Laurie said.

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