The Federally-funded Regional Digital Tech Hub, which provides independent telecommunications information to regional, rural and remote Australians, commenced operations yesterday.
Part of the Federal Government’s $220 million Stronger Regional Digital Connectivity Package, the Hub has been developed and will be run by the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), which has been collaborating with groups including the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN). NFF has been contracted to deliver the Tech Hub for an initial 12 months with an option for a further two year extension and has worked closely with ACCAN to ensure the information provided through the Hub is practical, relevant and easily accessible.
Among the services provides is information on troubleshooting mobile phone and internet issues, choosing a service and getting action on service faults.
“The Regional Tech Hub delivers on the Government’s commitment to help improve the digital literacy of Australians in regional, rural and remote areas by providing a one-stop source of independent, practical advice,” said Regional Communications Minister, Mark Coulton MP.
An organisation particularly happy with the launch of the Hub is Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia (BIRRR), which inadvertently undertook the troubleshooting role for the past six years – an effort NFF described as “outstanding”.
“BIRRR will continue to lobby for #betterbushcomms and our Facebook group and website will still exist, however all troubleshooting will now be sent directly to the RTH,” said BIRRR Co-Founder Kylie Stretton.
In the leadup to launch, BIRRR worked with the Regional Tech Hub team to pass on the knowledge it has acquired over the years. While Australians are generally more tech-savvy and telecommunications services better than when BIRRR originally started back in 2014, Chief Admin Kristy Sparrow said many consumers still find telecommunications in the regions difficult to navigate.
The Regional Digital Tech Hub of course has a strong focus on the NBN, but non-NBN fixed wireless ISP services (WISPs) are mentioned on the RTH site along with a map of these NBN- alternative providers.
Telecommunications support for regional Australians is available via the RTH website, a phone support line, and social media pages.
In other recent news regarding telecommunications in the bush, hundreds of mobile phone towers will soon be able to keep operating longer during blackouts after the Morrison Government announced early this month the provision of $13.2 million to extend battery backup at 467 towers.