ACCAN forms internet, NBN lobby group over rural and regional services

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ACCAN forms internet, NBN lobby group over rural and regional services

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has formed a coalition with 14 other organisations to advocate for better telecommunications services in remote and regional areas.

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition includes community organisations such as the National Farmers' Federation (NFF), Country Women's Association, Isolated Children's Parents' Association and AgForce Queensland.

ACCAN advocates for consumers and small businesses on issues surrounding telecommunications products.

Chief executive Teresa Corbin said the coalition would highlight the concerns of consumers, businesses and communities about the lack of access to reliable and quality services in remote and regional areas.

“2017 must be the year of delivering real improvements to digital connectivity in the bush,” she said.

The coalition has outlined five fundamental outcomes, which Corbin said were "ambitious and achievable" and reflect the need for change in these communities.

Outcomes include:

  • A universal service obligation that is technology neutral and provides access to both voice and data;
  • Customer service guarantees and reliability measures to underpin the provision of voice and data services and deliver more accountability from providers and NBN;
  • Long-term public funding for open access mobile network expansion in rural and regional Australia;
  • Fair and equitable access to Sky Muster satellite services for those with a genuine need for the service, and access which reflects the residential, educational and business needs of rural and regional Australia; and
  • Fully resourced capacity building programs that build digital ability, and provide learning and effective problem solving support for regional, rural and remote businesses and consumers.

NBN launched its second Sky Muster satellite in October, which provides broadband to parts of Australia that would otherwise be too expensive to service with a physical connection.

NBN expects 85,000 full-time users to connect to the service by June 2017 and has set a long-term goal of 400,000 regional homes and businesses.

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