Canberra begins rural telecoms review

Tuesday, 08 May, 2018

Canberra begins rural telecoms review

A committee has been established for the next review of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia.

The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee is convened every three years to examine regional telecommunication services.

Six members have been appointed to the committee, including Sean Edwards (chair), Wendy Duncan, Johanna Plante, Robbie Sefton, Kylie Stretton and Paul Weller. The committee brings a wealth of experience in the telecommunications sector and an extensive understanding of regional Australia.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for those in the regions to have their say on how they use telecommunication services and the issues that affect them,” said Minister for Regional Communications Senator Bridget McKenzie.

“As a regional Australian myself, I know how important it is to have access to 21st-century communications. The Coalition Government recognises the benefits that improved connectivity can bring to the families, communities and businesses in our regions.

“The review will examine regional telecommunications issues closely and examine how rural Australians can maximise the economic and social benefits that next-generation telecommunication services can provide.”

The review will commence shortly and all rural Australians are encouraged to participate.

Committee member Kylie Stretton said the review was critical to ensure the telecommunication needs of rural families are met now and into the future.

“Retaining families in the regions is an important issue for rural Australia. It is critical that rural families have access to adequate, reliable and affordable telecommunications,” Stretton said.

“We rely so heavily on telecommunications as this is how we conduct our business, educate our children and access health appointments, as well as alleviating the challenges of geographical and social isolation.”

Johanna Plante said the review will closely consider the impact and opportunities of rapidly evolving technologies on regional communications.

“Though the government has already delivered great improvements in regional telecommunications, this cannot be the end of the story,” Plante said.

“With technologies continuously evolving, we need a sustainable framework that ensures regional areas will have timely access to the business and social opportunities flowing from such innovations. This is what I see as the challenge for this review.”

The federal government is also reviewing consumer protections for a post-2020 environment and is developing options for a future-looking universal service guarantee to ensure all Australians can access a voice and broadband service no matter where they live.

The committee will shortly call for submissions and will undertake public consultations in regional and rural areas later in the year. It is expected to report to government by the end of September 2018.

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