Un­metered in­ter­net for ru­ral prop­er­ties

New in­ter­net ser­vices for ru­ral fam­i­lies

Central and North Rural Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - GE­ORDI OFFORD Ge­[email protected]­ral­weekly.com.au

AF­TER many years of lob­by­ing, un­metered data is now a re­al­ity for peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas.

The pro­posed Sky Muster Plus Ser­vice is cur­rently in the con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod, with a launch ex­pected next year.

New chair of the Na­tional Farm­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion and So­cial Pol­icy Com­mit­tee and mem­ber of Bet­ter In­ter­net for Ru­ral, Re­gional and Re­mote (BIRRR) Aus­tralia, Kylie Stret­ton said the pack­age has been a long time com­ing.

“It’s go­ing to make a huge dif­fer­ence,” she said.

“There was a lot of pres­sure on the is­sue from groups such as BIRRR, AgForce and ICPA and they’ve lis­tened to us.”

Liv­ing on a prop­erty in Cen­tral Queens­land her­self, Mrs Stret­ton said the cur­rent Sky Muster data runs out quickly and slows down once the quota has been met.

“In some places it runs out within two or three weeks and it leaves you with noth­ing for the rest of the month,” she said.

“With the new ser­vice, check­ing weather, emails, do­ing on­line bank­ing and soft­ware up­dates will go un­metered.

“How­ever, when it comes to the kids down­load­ing game and mu­sic it will still slow down. So even if you’ve met your monthly data you will still be able to do the im­por­tant things with­out miss­ing out.”

She said in­ter­net ac­cess is cru­cial to prop­er­ties and re­gional ar­eas.

“Peo­ple have had to move into town, so they can ac­cess in­ter­net to run their off-farm busi­nesses,” she said.

“But at this time of year it’s also im­por­tant be­cause it’s storm and fire sea­son, so peo­ple need ac­cess to alerts

❝There was a lot of pres­sure on the is­sue from groups such as BIRRR, AgForce and ICPA and they’ve lis­tened to us. — Kylie Stret­ton

to be able to pro­tect their prop­erty.”

Mrs Stret­ton has heard many sto­ries from fam­i­lies over the years about how lack of in­ter­net data had im­pacted them.

“It was heart­break­ing,” she said, “I re­mem­ber there was one fam­ily whose chil­dren were be­ing home-schooled the el­dest was 15 and he was do­ing a cer­tifi­cate in agri­cul­ture.

“His younger brother needed ac­cess to a speech pathol­o­gist us­ing Skype.

“He would get up at 1am to do his lessons in off-peak hours so his younger brother had enough in­ter­net to see the speech pathol­o­gist.”

Mrs Stret­ton said cus­tomers will need to sign up for the new ser­vice once it is avail­able.

“If you al­ready have Sky

CAM­PAIGN SUC­CESS: Shelly Hawkins from Trek West Hik­ing Tours, Camooweal; Annabelle Woods from cat­tle­sales.com.au; Stephen Rue, NBN CEO; Danielle Doyle aka Miss Chardy; Kylie Stret­ton from Bet­ter In­ter­net for Ru­ral, Re­gional and Re­mote Aus­tralia; and Wendy Hick, fed­eral pres­i­dent of the Iso­lated Chil­dren’s Par­ent’s As­so­ci­a­tion. PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTEDMuster you won’t au­to­mat­i­cally get the new Sky Muster Plus,” she said.Kylie said they want to see telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion com­pa­nies take a step up.“There needs to be more dig­i­tal lit­er­acy made avail­able to the re­gions,” she said.

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