Time government answered country’s call

People in rural areas live with an unacceptable state of communications access.The federal government has made some investments in improving telecommunications infrastructure through the Mobile Black Spot Program, but this has largely been unable to solve the wider problem of connectivity.
Nanjing Night Net

The government oversees a Universal Service Obligation (USO) to ensure all Australians receive a basic level of service from their telecommunications providers, no matter where they live.

But serious questions have been raised about the relevance of the USO. So much so that the Productivity Commission has launched an inquiry into how the USO could better provide Australians with adequate service. Currently, the USO only extends to landline services, ignoring how dependent we are onmobile phones and the internet in our daily lives.

This is seriously outdated. Mobile coverage especially is crucial – not just for farm safety, but for everything from checking market reports on your phone to emailing yield data to your agronomist. The Productivity Commission recognises this and has recommended the basic level of service be extended to data as well as voice telecommunications.

This sounds great, except that the commission has recommended the National Broadband Network (NBN) as the main method for delivering a baseline level of service.

In Victoria, just as across the country, the NBN has failed the pub test for delivering. It’s been slow and there’s real concern that so far the network isn’t delivering the service most farmers and rural families need, such as quality reception and download capacity.

While there’s a need for the family home and home office to be serviced with appropriate levels of voice and data, there’s also a strong requirement for farmers to be able to access phone services and mobile dataaround the farm property.

The VFF receives complaints from farmers frustrated about the level of service being provided under the USO, when it’s clear an effort isn’t being made to ensure we can keep up with our city cousins as technology rapidly advances.

Let’s put more thought into how a better service can be achieved. It’s up to governments to give us an adequate communications service, but it’s up to us to tell them what we need.

Brett Hosking, VFF vice-president

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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