The two Bills that comprise the Telecommunications Reform Package include important provisions that the RRRCC says will support guaranteed access to reliable telecommunications for all Australians, “with an emphasis on regional, rural and remote areas”.
The provisions will result in changes to carrier separation rules, provide new statutory infrastructure provider obligations on NBN Co, and will establish the Regional Broadband Scheme to support the partial cross-subsidisation of NBN satellite and fixed wireless services by other network providers.
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) CEO and RRRCC member Teresa Corbin said the measures were fundamental to supporting access to telecommunications in regional, rural and remote areas.
"All Australians have the right to reliable communications, including those living in our regions," Corbin said. "Implementing the Telecommunications Reform Package will ensure that the infrastructure needed to deliver these vital services can be sustainably funded.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has re-emphasised just how critical reliable, quality and affordable telecommunications services are for all Australians, and we must ensure that regional areas are not left behind.
"Telecommunications connect our communities to education services, health care, business development opportunities, and most importantly, each other."
The RRRCC says the legislation has been highly scrutinised since it was first introduced in 2017, and the most recent Senate Environment and Communications Committee report, released in February this year, recommended the Bills be passed with additional transparency measures.
Corbin says the RRRCC supports this amendment and encourages Labor and the crossbench to support the Bills’ passage, noting that “passage of the Telecommunications Reform Package with bipartisan support is one of the RRRCC's key asks, and will help to deliver on the RRRCC's goal to guarantee access to voice and data services”.