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Seventeen organisations from across Australia are today converging on Parliament House, Canberra with one simple message: 2017 must be the year of bringing reliable and affordable telecommunications to rural, regional and remote Australia.
Specifically the Coalition is asking parliamentarians to consider five initiatives to improve bush communications:
1. A universal service obligation that is technology neutral and provides access to both voice and data;
2. Customer service guarantees and reliability measures to underpin the provision of voice and data services, to deliver more accountability from providers and nbn;
3. Long term public funding for open access mobile network expansion in rural and regional Australia;
4. Fair and equitable access to Sky Muster satellite for those with a genuine need for the service, and access which reflects the residential, educational and business needs of rural and regional Australia;
5. Funding to build digital literacy and provide problem solving support for regional, rural and remote businesses and consumers.
Over two days, the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition will meet with almost 50 parliamentarians to explain the inequity created by inadequate mobile phone network coverage and unreliable and limited internet connectivity in regional Australia.
The Coalition brings together organisations with an interest in regional Australia and represents agriculture, education, women and telecommunications users.
Our mission is to highlight to parliamentarians the widening-gap between the digital-haves and the digital have-nots - unfortunately the digital have-nots are increasingly regional people.
Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation
“Currently, rurally-based Australians struggle to run their businesses, educate their children and complete day-to-day online tasks as a result of unreliable telecommunications services."
Ms Simson said there was enormous opportunity for regional Australia if communication services were improved to a standard commensurate with that enjoyed by urban dwellers.
“There are opportunities across the spectrum including for business, in particular agriculture, the delivery of health and education services and social interactions.”
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) Chief Executive Officer, Teresa Corbin, said the convergence of the Coalition on Parliament House would send a powerful message.
It is a matter of national importance and urgency to ensure all Australians, regardless of where they live, have access to adequate, reliable and affordable internet, voice and mobile phone services.
Teresa Corbin, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network
“We are here to ensure the plight of regional, rural and remotely-based Australians, when it comes to telecommunications and connectivity is understood, valued and commitments are made to improving it.”
Bush telecoms group tells Canberra it’s time for action