In regional areas, the lack of access to reliable connectivity and the fact that transmission speeds and costs are higher than for the same service in the cities, continues to limit the ability of some councils and their communities to access the benefits of new technologies and the digital economy.
On 30 April 2018, Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regional Communications, announced the commencement of the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.
The committee will review telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia. As part of the review, the committee will:
- consider how regional communities can maximise the economic benefits of digital technologies
- consider how regional consumers use their broadband services and how they might derive more benefits, and
- analyse the coverage outcomes achieved through the Mobile Black Spot Program, and examine the extent of the existing gaps in mobile coverage in regional Australia.
ALGA recently made a submission to the review.
ALGA’s position over many years is that equitably delivered and affordably priced telecommunications facilities should be available to all Australians, no matter where they live – however, the challenges of Australia’s geography and population distribution are acknowledged.
Provision of information technology to all Australians is vital to innovation, economic growth and social equity, however, it is even more important to regional Australia where the tyranny of distance increases the inequity of services available – including education, health, economic and social.
Over the years ALGA’s National General Assembly of Local Government, held annually, consistently receives motions from regional and rural councils calling on the government to improve telecommunications services in regional Australia. These motions express ongoing discontent with telecommunications blackspots and erratic internet services in rural Australia which are acting as an inhibitor to economic development, growth in existing business, the provision of modern education programs and creates difficulties for emergency service management during emergency events.
ALGA supports a core backbone of fibre to ensure appropriate telecommunications infrastructure can support all Australians and rural and regional communities do not remain disadvantaged.
ALGA also recommends reinforcing telecommunications infrastructure provision with other relevant support such as the development of business applications and training programs to upskill the workforce.
Read ALGA’s full submission on its website.