Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:20

Broadband monitoring not enough, way to go on regional comms problems Featured

By
Fiona Simson, National Farmers' Federation Fiona Simson, National Farmers' Federation

The coalition pushing for improved regional communications services says the federal government’s newly announced broadband monitoring programme doesn’t go far enough and more needs to be done to redress communications problems still plaguing rural and remote areas.

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition — a group of like-minded organisations who have come together to end the “data drought” and champion better communications services for consumers and small businesses — says that while the government’s initiative is welcome, the monitoring programme could go further.

“At the moment the programme will only cover fixed line services, and it is fair to say that the majority of membership across the RRRCC accesses NBN services either through fixed wireless or the Sky Muster satellite,” says National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson.

"There is also a need for greater understanding and accountability around how these services are performing.”

“It is telling that even the ACCC commissioner Rod Sims has acknowledged that the majority of complaints are coming from regional areas."

The new broadband performance monitoring programme, to be administered by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, will see consumers receive independent information about broadband speeds based on feedback from more than 4000 households.

Despite the RRRCC concerns, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin said the monitoring programme was a welcome measure and “we congratulate the Australian Government on the initiative”.

“The top complaint about Internet services to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is in relation to faulty services and slow speeds, indicating there is a gap between consumer expectations of how their services will perform, and actual performance.

"This programme will provide consumers the needed information on average performance to make considered purchasing choices."

In its recent submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the National Broadband Network, the RRRCC called on the government to commit to five actions:

  • A universal service obligation for both voice and data.
  • Customer service guarantees to deliver more accountability from providers and NBN.
  • Long-term public funding for open access mobile network expansion (blackspots).
  • Fair and equitable access to Sky Muster satellite for those with a genuine need for the service.
  • Fully resourced capacity-building programmes that build digital ability.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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