Conroy updates progress on regional telecommunications recommendations

The 23 May report proved the importance of the NBN, Conroy said.

The Australian government has started implementing several recommendations of the independent Regional Telecommunications Review Committee (RTRC) from a report released 23 May, said communications minister Stephen Conroy.

Conroy said the government is well along on four recommendations:

  • Providing access to the NBN Co Interim Satellite Service for remote schools and health facilities
  • Releasing the NBN Co network extension policy on 12 July
  • Continuing provision of untimed local calls in remote areas of Australia for 2012 to 2013.
  • Funding regional development Australia committees to develop strategies for NBN rollout in regional areas

Conroy said the government would consider extensions of several programs praised by the RTRC, including the indigenous communications program, the satellite phone subsidy scheme, the digital hubs, digital enterprise and digital local government programs.

Conroy said he’s aware of concerns about mobile coverage in rural areas. “The Government encourages NBN Co and mobile carriers to work together to take advantage of the NBN fixed wireless towers to improve mobile coverage across regional Australia," Conroy said.

"The Government will review the impact of the NBN fixed wireless towers on improving mobile coverage before considering whether any additional funding is needed to extend mobile coverage.”

The report proved the importance of the NBN, Conroy said.

“This independent review has confirmed that people living in regional Australia support the Gillard Government’s investment in the National Broadband Network and our decision to prioritise the rollout of fast, reliable and affordable broadband to regional areas,” Conroy said.

“There is also strong support for our commitment to uniform wholesale pricing, which ensures people living in rural, remote and regional Australia pay the same wholesale price for broadband as those living in cities,” he said. “This is something the Coalition continues to oppose, meaning higher prices for Australians in the bush.”

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