The federal government’s 2021 regional telecoms report highlights key problem areas | Review of the northern beaches
The slump in INFRASTRUCTURE and increased demand for mobile and internet services are among the key findings contained in a recent federal government review of regional telecoms.
The triennial Regional Telecommunications Review was recently presented to the federal legislature and highlighted several important problem areas.
Among the 12 recommendations made by the review board was that the government should focus on “developing a long-term investment and planning framework for digital infrastructure and regional digital capabilities.”
In addition to government investment, the report also called on NBN Co to commit to providing upgrades to its regional fixed wireless network to enable faster network speeds and limit network congestion by “boosting the network to provide users with more bandwidth; and [by] Extending the reach of the network to areas currently served by Sky Muster satellites.”
In the report’s cover letter, the report’s chair, Luke Hartsuyker, said that there had been “a clear change in the demand for telecommunications and that the needs of the regional communities are being met”. [and] must reflect this change”.
“There is a new paradigm in the way we use telecoms and Australia will rely even more on digital connectivity as it strives to become a leading digital economy,” said Hartsuyker.
“Reliable telecommunications are essential to daily life in regional, rural and remote Australia and have taken on a role much more akin to electricity.
“Australia is now at a crossroads where it can either risk the digital divide widening or see the regions thrive.
“The decisions made now will determine whether the regions fulfill their extraordinary potential as great places to live, work, invest and do business.”
Xavier Martin, vice president of NSW Farmers, said the recommendations, while not groundbreaking, could herald a new era for the bush if implemented.
“COVID-19 has accelerated the need to be connected from anywhere and there is a real opportunity to bring regional, rural and remote Australia to the same standard as urban centers,” said Martin.
“The benefits of a reliable connection are many in the bush – from making farms safer and health services more efficient, to increasing efficiency and opening the door for regional online businesses.”
The report comes as the industry watchdog reported internet and phone complaints had been down for the fifth consecutive reporting period.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s second-quarter complaints report showed that consumers and small businesses filed 18,386 complaints, down 14.2 percent from the previous quarter and 39.7 percent from the same period last year.
“In my six years as the Telecoms Industry Ombudsman, we have worked closely with our members to reduce phone and Internet problems for consumers and small businesses,” said Ombudsman Judi Jones.
“Following an increase in complaints in 2018, it is very gratifying to see a steady decrease in complaints. The collaboration has made a real difference for consumers.
“I encourage telcos to continue working with consumers to solve their problems. And as always, if the call is interrupted, contact my office. We are free and here to help.”