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Telecommunications Review highlights regional connectivity challenge

23 October 2015

The report from Regional Telecommunications Review tabled in Parliament yesterday builds the case for improved connectivity in the bush, says the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

NFF President Brent Finlay said the report captures the increasing importance of connectivity in rural Australia.

“Farming families rely heavily on communications infrastructure to stay connected and run their businesses from remote locations,” Mr Finlay said.

“The review highlights that, despite ongoing investment, rural areas are continuing to fall well behind on quality, reliability and affordability of telecommunications services”.

The Report rightly points to the Interim Satellite Service (ISS), offered by NBN Co. as a standout failure.

“The ISS has been a serious cause of frustration among users – who have seen the service grind to a halt due to unexpected demand,” Mr Finlay said.

“The Report rightly highlights that without limitations placed on usage, the Long Term Satellite Service could be similarly constrained within a matter of years.

“The nature of the usage restrictions will be incredibly important to rural customers – who don’t want to be charged an arm and a leg for a system which cannot meet their needs”.

The Report also makes recommendations on reform of the Universal Service Obligation to reflect customers’ reliance on data, as well as voice services.

“Quality and reliability of data connections are now equally important for small businesses as copper-based voice services. In the context of the NBN rollout it makes sense to look at how the industry levy can support the services we need, rather than those we now have,” Mr Finlay said.

“The NFF would welcome the chance to work with Government to progress the proposed Consumer Communication Standards and Consumer Communication Fund to ensure these deliver maximum impact for rural Australians.

“We would like to thank RTIRC Chair Deena Schiff and the Committee for examining these critical issues and delivering valuable recommendations to improve connectivity in the bush.”

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