Results from a recent survey show Australians in rural, regional and remote areas are doing it tough when it comes to internet access.
In an increasingly online world, fast broadband internet connection speeds and generous data caps are not just desirable, but a necessity.
The Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR) Regional Internet Access Survey reveals rural, regional and remote (RRR) Australians have the short end of the stick with regard to access, speeds, cost and reliability of their internet connections.
Nearly 88% of the 2,000 RRR Australians stated the services they currently have do not meet their needs.
74% of mobile broadband users and 89% of satellite users surveyed are experiencing download speeds of under 5Mbps
It's not just speed that's an issue; but also stingy data caps and the cost of data. As the web evolves, online applications are becoming increasingly bandwidth and data-intensive.
A recently published report from Australia’s Bureau of Statistics noted data downloaded for fixed line and wireless (Australia-wide) in the three months ended 31 December 2015 was up 49% compared with the same period in 2014.
Data-hungry services are hitting rural, regional and remote internet users hard in the hip pocket.
For mobile broadband, data costs among those surveyed averaged $9.27 per gigabyte, with some paying up to $20 per gigabyte. Satellite is even more costly, averaging $15.96 per GB, with some RRR Australians paying up to $70 per GB.
The NBN's recently launched Sky Muster services won't actually pass muster for long according to the BIRR.
"Currently internet connectivity does not meet the educational, business, health & welfare needs of regional Australians," said BIRRR founder Kristy Sparrow.
" Peak Data of 75GB on NBN satellite will not future proof Australia’s data needs. Nor will it end the #datadrought. The Long Term Satellite is not a long term solution for rural, regional and remote users of the internet. "
Ms. Sparrow says the results of the survey show further justification for an independent telecommunications advisory body to be set up for RRR users, along with a universal service guarantee for regional Australians that is equitable in terms of speed, download capabilities and costs.
“If this does not occur regional Australia will be left (even further) behind," she said.
The full 2016 BIRRR Survey results can be viewed here.