NBN coverage sought for regional Victoria

The National Broadband Network (NBN) alone does not address all telecommunications services that are critical for regional and rural Victoria, according to the Victorian Government.

The Regional Telecommunications Review will receive advice from the state government through a submission covering the interests of regional and rural areas.

The review calls for a national strategy to fix significant gaps in access to broadband and mobile telecommunications in the state’s regional and rural areas.

Minister for Technology, Gordon Rich-Phillips said the state’s review submission to the Commonwealth emphasises the importance of fixing mobile network coverage and quality, which the NBN policy does not cover.

Mr Rich-Phillips said mobile and broadband coverage blackspots, a lack of telecommunication service competition and low service uptake have
“disproportionately affected” these areas.

"The Victorian Government is applying a balanced and practical approach to ensure that Victorian industry and broadband users get the best possible outcome from the NBN,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

“However, more can be done to support a competitive regional telecommunications market and an environment in which broadband enables greater business productivity, and more efficient government services," Mr Rich-Phillips said.

He said Victoria’s regions are subject to different drivers for economic growth and have different opportunities for development.

"Population, economic and social trends in Victoria are complex, therefore conditions for supply and demand for telecommunications vary widely,” he said.

According to Mr Rich-Phillips, Commonwealth policy improving regional telecommunications needs to recognise these differences and enable appropriately tailored solutions.

Recommendations made to the federal government were to develop a high quality broadband rollout strategy; improve mobile phone coverage; and support development of the ‘digital economy’ in rural and regional areas to drive productivity and social improvements.

The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee will advise the federal government on the state of regional and rural telecommunications in Australia through the Regional Telecommunications Review.

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