Riverina farmers are clinging to their telephone lines and rigging up mobile antennas to supplement low data caps and expensive plans on the National Broadband Network's satellite service.
The company behind the internet upgrade project, nbn, has responded to ongoing complaints about its 'Skymuster' service by launching new data allowance plans aimed at business users and remote households.
Sandigo farmer and campaigner for better rural internet, Lee Longmire, said she welcomed the option to perform essential tasks like email, education and software updates without burning through a data cap.
However, she said many Riverina farmers she had spoken to still had fundamental problems with their satellite internet.
"Farmers are trying to run a business and provide an internet connection for their families using the same limited amount of data," she said.
"(nbn) did not set it up with with the capacity from the get-go for people trying to run a business, trying to access education and possibly working from home outside farming, as well as personal use.
"Those are things most town-dwellers can take for granted because they get unlimited data...but the Skymuster nbn is a limited data amount."
Smaller towns and outlying areas are covered by the fixed-wireless network, which uses mobile phone-style towers to deliver the internet.
There are large parts of the region, particularly at The Gap and around Matong and many areas between Currawarna and Narrandera, will have to use the satellite service.
Grong Grong farmer Sally Gillespie said she was holding on to her old-generation ADSL internet connection, which runs over telephone lines, because it charged a flat monthly fee regardless of data use.
"We're long way from the phone exchange so on a good day, my speed would probably be 0.09 megabits per second (more than 250 times slower than fixed-line NBN)," she said.
"There's only satellite NBN in our area. We're reluctant to move onto NBN because of the cost and we don't have great mobile reception for a backup connection.
"We have got 60 gigabytes per month but we are not charged extra if we go over the limit."
Mrs Gillespie said she did all her banking online and her children use the internet for assignments.
"We don't have the luxury of Netflix or anything like that," she said.
Telstra and nbn are in the process of shutting down the copper wire telephone system, which usually forces all customers onto the NBN about 18 months after it becomes available in a particular area.
Mrs Gillespie said she had not been given an official date for when phone and internet will be forced onto the NBN.
"We do get calls from scammers all the time claiming our internet will be cut off tomorrow," she said.
Launching the new plans this week, nbn chief executive Stephen Rue said 'Skymuster Plus' would "provide comfort to customers who can continue to access essential internet services such as online banking any time".
"We know this is particularly important for small businesses, which are critical to local communities," he said.
Almost all residential and business areas of Wagga will be, or already are, part of the fixed-line version of the NBN.