National Farmers' Federation

NFF welcomes telecommunications response, warns more investment needed

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today welcomed the Government’s response to the 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review, but warned more was required in the future to ensure adequacy of services in regional Australia.
The warning comes following yesterday’s tabling of the response to the report, which included 12 key recommendations to improve telecommunications access in the regional, rural and remote areas of the nation.
NFF President Brent Finlay said while recent announcements relating to the NBN network were pleasing, more investment was needed to ensure capacity kept pace with demand.
“Three things in life are certain: death; taxes; and that eventually we will exceed the capacity of the NBN’s Long Term Satellite Service,” Mr Finlay said.
“While we are pleased by recent announcements from NBN Co, including another 40,000 homes coming into the fixed wireless footprint, we will most certainly need more done over time and the NFF looks forward to continuing that conversation with Government.”
Mr Finlay said the NFF was heartened by the announcement of reviews aimed at modernising consumer safeguards and the soon-to-be-outdated Universal Service Obligation.
“It’s evident the regulation underpinning rural service provision will need to change to account for the role of the NBN, and the increased demand for data services by rural customers,” he said.
“We are pleased to see the Government is not showing signs of rushing into any changes, as this will be a critical reform for rural Australia and seeking the advice of the Productivity Commission on reform of the Universal Service Obligation is a sound starting point.”
Mr Finlay said as Australian agriculture continued to expand and generate increasing export revenue, it was critical sufficient telecommunications infrastructure was provided to support this growth.
“Communications infrastructure is vital to ensure the bush continues to be a great place to call home and a profitable place to do business, particularly given the rapid rate at which agriculture is embracing digital technology.
“We commend the steps announced by the Government to review the framework for service provision in the bush and now emphasise the importance of this resulting in the delivery of telecommunication services that support a connected and prosperous rural Australia.”

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