NRWC takes your telecommunications feedback to Canberra
Feedback from rural, remote and regional women demonstrates there are still significant limitations in regards to access, availability and affordability of telecommunications in large areas of Australia. NRWC have followed this through by taking this important message to 6 Ministers during their latest visit to Canberra...
'Develop a holistic telecommunications package for all Australians, using digital technology to deliver equitable, affordable and reliable access to broadband, mobile and landline, to enable safety, business and community sustainability.
The package should also invest in maintenance and technical support to enable users to use the new technology.'
During the last sitting week of the Australian Government in Canberra in 2015, Dr Pat Hamilton, Alwyn Friedersdorff and Leonie Noble had 6 meetings with Ministers, Shadow Ministers and Advisers re the access to, the availability and affordability of telecommunications in rural, remote and regional Australia.
Mobile access to Internet and voice services is a basic expectation of most Australians, including those in rural, remote and regional areas.
The nature of living in rural communities demands the availability of reliable telecommunications services including “reliable and ubiquitous high-speed broad connections that … enable high quality videoconferencing and collaborative tools.”
RRR communities continue to face difficulties in accessing quality, affordable and reliable broadband and telephone services. This is despite improvements to date associated with the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and continued investment in the Mobile Blackspot Programme.
High-speed internet and mobile phone coverage are important contributors to modern standards of living. This is particularly the case in regional areas where voice services, video calling and social media platforms are an important source of social connectivity for those on the land.
Women and their families, currently, find themselves in a data-rich environment without easy access the communication infrastructure – often not available nor affordable as uploads/downloads increase; bandwidth is being stretched during peak periods.
In order to take part in the digital economy, the NRWC has consulted RRR women re Information Communications Technology and adequate phone coverage.
· Feedback re the Internet includes the following: · limited coverage; poor data speeds; inadequate reliability; insufficient data allowances; and limited competition – with rural users paying significantly higher fees than urban customers
· Feedback for phone coverage: black or grey areas of mobile phone reception; poor reliability of phone and internet connections; long delays in reconnecting faulty services; insufficient data allowances for internet packages; and, limited competition leading to more expensive services.
Women who are able to access the Interim Satellite Solution (ISS) have noted the unavailability of receiving and sending basic e-mail , exceeding data allowance regularly (impacting on children accessing schooling online). They await the Long-Term Satellite Solution (LTSS) but not with confidence as, based on past experiences, satellite-dependent users may quickly exhaust the available bandwidth under the LTSS if demand continues to increase. RRR women who use this technology have welcomed the pilot to increase the speed of the Fixed Wireless network to 50/20mbps.
 DBCDE Advancing Australia as a Digital Economy Canberra 2013:74