Communication is key

We hesitate to call for government assistance for fear of being smacked down as asking for hand-outs

THE NEWS that mobile phone coverage, a marginal bet at the best of times in many areas is under pressure due to increased data demand from tablet and smartphone users highlights the importance of an overarching policy on phone coverage.

In terms of fixed internet, the NBN, whether you agree with it or not, is a comprehensive blueprint, but in terms of mobile coverage, which will be how many rural customers will access the net the most, there still seems to be an ad hoc approach from government.

Telstra has indicated it will increase capacity in areas where there is increased demand, but we cannot rely on a commercial body to provide the necessary service.

We believe the government needs to view providing mobile service a similar nation-building exercise as our forefathers did creating our road and rail network all those years ago.

There’s no doubt that access to reliable mobile phone coverage will be as critical to running a viable business as having reliable transport links, especially with the increased focus on snap decision making in terms of farm management.

Already, rural business owners lag significantly behind their city counterparts in terms of access to services, and you can’t expect private enterprise to put up mobile towers out of the goodness of their heart.

We hesitate to call for government assistance for fears of being smacked down as simply asking for hand-outs, but instead, we’d ask government to consider bolstering the rural phone network as an investment.

A cost-to-benefit analysis would quickly reveal that the boost to rural business and productivity from a reliable mobile phone network would be well worth any investment made.

And why not encourage investment in rural areas? At present, with slow internet and patchy mobile service, businesses are put off investing in rural, as opposed to regional, areas when they would otherwise fit the bill perfectly.

With our cities bursting at the seams, surely creating business and employment opportunities out of the major centres makes sense.

It makes sense on an instinctive level too – why should residents of rural Australia have to suffer sub-par services simply because of the tyranny of distance.

We have a situation where rural infrastructure right across the board is running ragged and in danger of falling markedly behind what is available in the cities. Some proactive governance right now can ensure farm businesses are on a level playing field in terms of communications at least.

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22/02/2013 11:54:32 AM

Optus, my service provider, replaced the SIM card on an iPhone 5. That has improved access to the g3 network to a level of 6 out of 10. Most of the time, I get a signal but the strength varies. NBN is key to improving rural life. I am inclined to think Malcolm Turnbull will be a better advocate of its efficacy than Barnaby Joyce.

Thought this was interesting... it's a problem when metro residents can't get internet... they are forced to use their mobile for data! The horror! I know its not these guys' fault and they have got issues, but do you think there's the understanding there's still people who haven't got reliable mobile coverage, let alone broadband!

Posted by moderator: Gregor Heard on 5/03/2013 9:55:31 AM
Jezza yass
22/02/2013 8:08:48 AM

Ajstevo as long as you keep thinking like that then nothing will ever happen so in the end you get what you deserve.The electorates that get the all the action are the marginals.Lets all try it and see what happens things cant get worst
21/02/2013 5:05:38 PM

So what's the alternative, not Milne and her rabid mob. You just have to keep at who ever is your local member.
Jezza yass
21/02/2013 8:14:16 AM

The reason the bush gets screwed on every front is simple. The LNP know they will win the seat every time so why should bother with us.Try voting for an alternitive and then youl see phone towers hospitals roads materialise before your eyes The NBN will be good but a bit slow in the rollout
21/02/2013 6:27:17 AM

I agree with Hafta Pee. When you buy an iphone, quality service is expected. Instead I have had to point out to the provider that it is charging for a service that is not obtainable, certainly not with any consistency. Of all things, rural workers need good mobile phone coverage, for safety purposes as much as anything else.

So what do you guys think of Telstra's plans to bolster networks in rural areas - is it going to have a meaningful influence on service?

Just how bad is service where you are? Obviously using data is problematic, but can you at least reliably use your phones?

Posted by moderator: Gregor Heard on 21/02/2013 7:22:52 AM
Hafta Pee
17/02/2013 8:49:59 AM

I don't mind that I need to be self sufficient in many things living rurally: own power, own water, dirt roads, fight our own fires, get myself to the hospital for emergencies etc etc but to not have access to decent comms is really beyond the pale and a complete let down by Government legislation. All mobile towers should have been built and owned by Government with the comms being leased to retailers The NBN has let us down (no fibre to you rural copper POTS users) and mobile coverage is non existent. Wait.. here's my carrier back in a sec I hope...
Grain of TruthRural Press grains writer Gregor Heard on the big issues facing the broadacre farmers today.


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