Wednesday, 20 March 2019 18:57

Regional coalition welcomes $220m in funding for bush communications

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Lobby group, the Regional, Rural and Remote Communication Coalition, has welcomed $220 million in funding for regional Australian communications, describing it as a win for bush communications across the country.

The funding allocation has been announced by the Australian Government as part of its response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.

The RRRCC says an additional $160 million for two new rounds of the Mobile Black Spot Program will be life-changing for the regional communities selected for funding, allowing them to access reliable communications on the go and in emergencies.

"Most of us now use mobile phones to keep in touch with family and friends whether we’re at home or travelling," said Australian Communications Consumer Action Network director of Policy, Una Lawrence.

"It’s heartening to see that the government is supporting our regions to do the same with this welcome investment into new, reliable mobile infrastructure."

Lawrence said the $60 million Regional Connectivity Program has the potential to further improve communications for those predominantly serviced by the Sky Muster satellite service, and the RRRCC welcomed the funding and its intent to close the digital divide between country and urban communities.

National Farmers Federation chief executive Tony Mahar said in the NFF submission to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, the RRRCC called for investment in assisting regional consumers to improve their digital literacy.

“Particularly when it comes to satellite Internet, the technology is complex, but having a better understanding of how it all works, can go a long way to improving consumers connectivity experience. The commitment to developing a tech hub to improve digital literacy will be valuable,” he said.  

The Coalition also welcomed the government’s acknowledgement of issues raised during the review’s public consultation regarding satellite and fixed wireless performance and access, and said it was pleased to see that they were being addressed.

The RRRCC has publicly called for an independent measurement of the speed performance of fixed-wireless and satellite NBN services to determine where the issues may lie.

“While the RRRCC is pleased that the government’s response to the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, and acknowledges the need for consumer safeguards for regional and remote communities, the group is waiting for a response to Part B of the Consumer Safeguards Review, and would like to see Part C of the Review released as a priority,” the Coalition said in its statement, issued on Wednesday.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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