Australians in regional and remote areas have been reminded to have a say on their telecommunications experiences.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) tweeted a reminder yesterday that Australians living in regional, rural or remote parts of the country are encouraged to share their views and experiences using telecommunications services outside of major cities.
In early July, the Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications kicked off the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review. This review is carried out every three years by an independent committee. This time around the committee members are Luke Hartsuyker (Chair), Sue Middleton, Kristy Sparrow, Professor Hugh Bradlow and Michael Cosgrave.
It’s a pretty important review as those in the past have helped set the stage for communications improvements. However, providing quality telecommunications services in regional Australia remains a challenge and will do for some time given Australia is such a big place and a comparatively small population live and work outside the big cities.
As part of the 2021 Review, the Committee will consider:
- What sort of impact Government policies and programs to improve regional connectivity and digital inclusion have had
- The effects of COVID-19 on digital needs
- Service reliability issues
- Emerging technologies and their role
- How to encourage more investment in regional telecommunications
- Ways to improve investment coordination between government and industry
- Consumer telecommunications awareness and education.
“Through the Review, the Committee hopes to understand the lived experience of regional consumers, communities and businesses in getting and staying connected, and wants to examine whether current and emerging services, technologies, programs and policies are adequate to meet future needs.”
A discussion paper has been published to provide guidance for framing submissions – but those making submissions only need to address questions relevant to them and they are not confined to providing feedback on those questions only. The discussion paper can be accessed here, along with related information.
Submissions can be made up until September 30 and the report is due to be delivered to the Government by 31 December 2021 or earlier – so the Committee has a big task ahead of it and not a great deal of time to get it done and dusted. Speaking of dust, this is a report that just can’t be put on a shelf to gather the stuff. Any recommendations made by the Committee must be responded to by the Government.