National Farmers' Federation

Bush communications coalition welcomes report into rural and regional NBN

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) welcomes the recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network’s inquiry into the rollout of the NBN in rural and regional areas.
In December 2017, the bipartisan committee announced that it would conduct a review of the NBN, focusing on the capacity and reliability of NBN satellite, fixed wireless and fixed line networks.
The RRRCC is pleased to see that the Committee has taken on board the concerns of regional Australia, and applauds recommendations that Sky Muster services be customised to meet the consumer needs.
The RRRCC notes that these echo initiatives recently announced by NBN, including the announcement of NBN Sky Muster Plus and a Sky Muster Business Enterprise Plan.
“The Coalition has long been calling for Sky Muster satellite services that are fit for purpose,” ACCAN Director of Policy, Una Lawrence said.
“These recommendations, along with the new NBN product announcements, are a considerable step in the right direction and we look forward to their arrival early next year.”
Other positive recommendations are better public information about fixed wireless congestion, and published mapping of each NBN technology footprint, as well as options for moving from satellite to fixed wireless where available.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson acknowledged the recommendations aimed at alleviating congestion on fixed wireless towers were a step in the right direction.
“Regional customers have been impacted by fixed wireless congestion due to a higher than anticipated migration to this product.
“While this is positive, it now requires NBN to take requisite measures to balance this inequality on fixed wireless and ensure an effective and reliable broadband service.”
One of the key concerns that the RRRCC raised in the consultation process is the need for long-term planning when it comes to the communications needs of regional Australians.
“ADSL and copper services are very important for regional, rural and remote consumers,” Ms Lawrence said.
“As the future of ADSL services is uncertain, we applaud the Committee’s call to gather data on the number of ADSL users in the Sky Muster footprint so that they can consider these consumers before undertaking future plans for the NBN.”
National Farmers’ Federation CEO Tony Mahar said regional, rural and remote Australians should be able to expect the same level of reliability of service as their metropolitan counterparts.
“To ensure this occurs it is important that the Federal Government continues to consult with members of the community to identify their needs and create long-term plans to safeguard against future issues.”
The RRRCC is also urging the Federal Parliament to pass legislation that would create guaranteed access to broadband for all premises and to ensure regional services are appropriately and sustainably funded in the long term.
The RRRCC will continue to monitor the Federal Government’s response to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network’s report on the rollout of the NBN in rural and regional areas.

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