23 February 2016
The Turnbull Government today tabled its response to the 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review report which made 12 key recommendations to improve telecommunications access in regional, rural and remote Australia.
In its response to the report, the Government has highlighted a number of key policy programmes which are already improving telecommunications services in regional Australia, including:
- the ongoing rollout of the national broadband network (nbn) which continues to gather pace across the country. Regional Australians will see benefits in the first half of this year with the launch of commercial services on the ‘Sky Muster’ satellite, the first of two world-class satellites to be launched by nbn;
- the ongoing rollout of high-speed nbn fixed wireless broadband services; and
- the ongoing rollout of the Mobile Black Spot Programme, with almost 500 new or upgraded mobile base stations to be switched on over the next three years and a further $60 million committed to round 2 of the programme in addition to the $100 million investment made under round 1.
The full impact of these initiatives is only just beginning to be realised in regional areas, and will continue to gather momentum over the coming years.
In its response, the Government notes that adjustments need to be made to current consumer safeguards to stay up-to-date with changes to available telecommunications technologies and consumer expectations.
The Productivity Commission has been asked to undertake an inquiry into the future requirements of the Universal Services Obligation (USO) in an evolving telecommunications market, with the Terms of Reference to be issued shortly.
The Government will also examine the overall consumer safeguards framework to ensure that regulations are fit-for-purpose and take into account ongoing developments in communications technology.
Telecommunications plays an important role in the social and economic development of rural and regional Australia, and the Government remains committed to ensuring Australians living in these areas have access to quality telecommunications services.
The Government response is available at www.communications.gov.au/regional-telecommunications-review