Federal government’s 2021 regional telecommunications review calls for experiences from the bush | North Queensland Registry


Virginia Beard, owner of Emmdale Roadhouse, has faced the challenges of limited phone and internet coverage.

REGIONAL residents are invited to share their experiences with telephone and Internet coverage by the federal government.

The issues facing remote, rural and regional communities will be explored as part of the federal government’s 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review.

Conducted every three years, the review aims to improve telecommunications services for regional areas and included in this year’s key issues will be adequacy, timeliness and awareness.

Under the three categories, the review will explore changing demand, reliability, regional development and education.

Sarah Groat, a former Wilcannia resident turned Rankins Springs resident, urged everyone to speak out on telecommunications issues, which she said could be “a matter of life and death.”

“I think everyone, no matter where they live in the NSW area, has a horror story when they’ve been without a phone or internet service,” Ms Groat said. ..

“If we had a power outage, which was a fairly regular occurrence, we would lose our landline, mobile phone service, and pretty much most other means of contacting the outside world, which made you feel a bit afraid in an emergency because you would like impossible to contact anyone.

“I remember being a little scared if I ever had to drive anywhere because I had no security knowing I could call anyone if I needed help.”

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Ms Groat said that since moving to the Riverina area in the state, she still suffered from black dots in the blanket.

“There are places around here where the service is good, but there are just as many places where you don’t get any service,” she said.

“I really think comparing the phone and Internet service that people in town get with the service that people in regional areas get is like comparing apples and oranges.

“On the one hand, it is much more affordable for city dwellers to access a number of services to get a good deal, while for the bush people we either have to take any service in our area. or use a satellite service such as Sky Muster, which is comparatively much more expensive.

“There are countries like Estonia where access to mobile and internet service is a human right and although I don’t expect to go straight there it would be nice if some improvements were made to the towers. existing or installing new towers to help increase coverage. “

Located on the barrier road between Cobar and Wilcannia, the Emmdale Roadhouse has proven to be a safe haven for truck drivers and travelers alike.

However, Virginia Beard, owner of the truck stop, said her company has provided a lifeline for many people due to the lack of coverage in the area.

“The Royal Flying Doctors Service has an airstrip and a small site about 400 meters in front of us and if the pilot is using the phone on the plane, the doctor will have to cross the road for us and use our booster, which only works in the store and in our yard, so make a call, ”Ms. Beard said.

“Saying that, our coverage has improved over the past six months or so, but before that, it wouldn’t be unusual for us to have service outages that would last for days or even weeks.

“If there is a power outage and someone has an accident or an emergency on the freeway, people have to come here to get the help they need.”

The review, meanwhile, also aims to explore the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on telecommunications in regional areas, an issue Ms Beard said she was happy to see discussed.

“I couldn’t operate here without a booster because you need it to be able to run an eftpos machine and in these times of pandemic, without it I cannot operate,” she said.

“The COVID recording that we have is through a tablet that is connected to wifi and we have been asked to stop using a handwritten recording book, so if the internet is down I could not function from that prospect either.

“For our region, the only thing I would like to see out of this review is that one of the two towers that covers our region be improved, because if that was the case I don’t think we would have as many problems as we do now. “

Submissions for the exam are open until September 30.

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The story “Question of life or death”: telecommunications questions to be expressed first appeared on Online farm.

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