LETTER: The unfinished business of the NBN

Sir – The Broadband for the Bush Alliance [wants] a greater focus on remote Australians – the very people who could benefit the most from digital communications overcoming distance and isolation.
The Alliance is calling for more attention to be given to Australia’s backyard.

Both the Government’s and the Opposition’s broadband policies lack a comprehensive regional and remote area strategy.

Both should be substantially enhanced to achieve greater digital inclusion for remote Australians.

At present both formal policies focus on access to fixed NBN services.

Fixed and mobile are complementary, yet the policies ignore mobile services altogether.

Policy is needed for the expansion of cellular mobile coverage in remote Australia where the market has failed to deliver.

As with their city cousins, many remote Australians rely on their mobile devices not only for making calls, but also for their internet connections.

The artificial separation of NBN from broader telecommunications services including mobile phones means that real opportunities are being lost, and this affects remote Australians’ services and business more than most.
Another major barrier to digital and communications inclusion in remote Australia is cost.

Pricing is important – not just for internet connectivity, but also for ordinary telephone and mobile phone.

The Alliance calls on both parties to carefully review their position on broader telecommunications pricing issues, such as mobile call tariffs in remote areas.
The Alliance is also calling for a coherent strategy to address the very significant digital literacy needs of remote Australia.

Investment in a strategy and its implementation is essential to substantially enhance digital literacy – for businesses, for people living in towns and for Indigenous Australians in remote Communities.
The Broadband for the Bush Alliance is keen to work with all political parties to develop a specific Remote Australia NBN strategy that fully includes remote Indigenous and other Australians in the digital age.
John Huigen (pictured)

Chair of the Broadband for the Bush Alliance, and CEO of Desert Knowledge Australia, who facilitate the Alliance.

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  1. Russell Guy
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Does this Alliance include, or is it in communication with the Diamantina and Barcoo Shires to the east of Alice Springs, currently without mobile access?

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