Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition formed to tackle the 'data drought'

Sick of putting up with poor reception, a ‘supergroup’ of rural organisations has come together to break the data drought.

The Country Women’s Association (CWA) has joined with Cotton Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation, Rice Growers Australia, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and many others to draw attention to the problem.

CWA Riverina president Ann Adams said there was a need for basic, reliable services for all people, regardless of where they lived.

“A lot of places around here still have terrible black spots when it comes to mobile phone services, let alone internet connections,” Mrs Adams said.

“Around the Riverina there are places you just can’t get mobile reception and these aren’t remote places, this is regional Australia.

“We rely so much on mobile phone services now that we feel absolutely lost without reception, you feel cut off at the elbow.”

The ‘Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition’ (RRRCC) released a wishlist of connection standards for regional and remote consumers, including:

  • A universal service obligation to provide access to voice and data
  • Customer service guarantees and reliability measures
  • Long-term public funding for open access mobile network expansion in rural and regional Australia
  • ‘Fair and equitable access’ to Sky Muster satellites reflecting residential, educational and business needs
  • Capacity-building programs

Prior to the federal election, Junee farmer Tony Clough told The Daily Advertiser about a crash at Wantabadgery where there was no mobile service, which meant finding a house with a landline to call Triple-0.

“I don’t think it is good enough,” Mr Clough said. “People out here have businesses to run and need access to telecommunications services.”

The calls come at a time when Australian internet usage is rapidly growing, thanks to TV and music streaming services. According to the Australian Communications and Media Authority, 2.2 million terabytes were downloaded in the June quarter alone, more than doubling consumption in just two years.

On Thursday, new mobile base stations near Temora were announced by the NSW government.

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