THE PEAK body for farmers has come out in support of an independent report into telecommunications, urging the government to adopt the ten recommendations made.
National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said she welcomed the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review and said the recommendations, if implemented, would deliver profound improvements to telecommunications and connectivity in the bush.
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“The Review has picked up many of the issues, the NFF membership and indeed members of the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC), of which NFF is a member, identified in submissions to the review,” she said.
Ms Simson said a focus on digital inclusion and recommendations for increased data limits, more equitable data meterage and enhanced digital literacy were highly valued.
“Too often, regional NBN users have their data chewed up by completing Government compliance tasks. Unmetered data for use of Government websites and a review of existing Sky Muster data limits are therefore welcomed."
Ms Simson said having the skills to troubleshoot connectivity issues and to understand the capability of the technology on offer was also important.
“We welcome the review’s identification of the need to improve digital literacy and the recommendations for the establishment of a technology ‘hub’ and the appointment of technical advisers across regional Australia to provide one-on-one help to consumers.
“The recommendation for the Government to support the farm sector to better realise the capability of the Internet of Things and industry-specific digital applications is also crucial.
“The NFF is already working with the NBN to connect farmer achieving great things with digital technology with other farmers.”
Ms Simson said she was pleased the review endorsed NFF’s request that the Universal Service Obligations for landlines remain until a fit-for-purpose alternative voice option is available for those consumers served by the Sky Muster satellite service.
“For many farmers a landline is still the only, and/or most reliable telecommunications option. By supporting the current USO arrangements, the Government has demonstrated its understanding of the importance of the landline, not only for social and business reasons but also for health, safety and emergency purposes.
“Our members also welcome an awareness of the need to put in place measures to improve landline repair times and processes.”
Ms Simson said the hard work was now ahead of the Government.
“We look forward to the Government, through Ministers Fifield and McKenzie, implementing these practical but potentially highly impactful recommendations.
“Access to a mobile phone network and a reliable and affordable internet connection is something many Australians take for granted but not those living outside the city bounds.
“We thank the Government for continuing to invest in, and carrying out the Regional Telecommunications Review.”
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