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Australian Government call for submissions on regional telecommunications development

Australian Government call for submissions on regional telecommunications development

Australia’s
2018 Regional Telecommunications Review has recently released an issues paper
and is currently seeking public submissions from individuals, businesses and
community groups based in regional and remote parts of the country. 

The
consultative process is part of the 2018 Regional Telecommunications
Independent Review Committee’s (RTIRC) efforts to ensure that Australians
living in regional and remote regions have access to socio-economic benefits that
modern communications technology can provide.

According to the RTIRC’s
official website
, the committee “ must
conduct a review of the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional,
rural and remote parts of Australia”, and that “in conducting the review, the
“(RTIRC) must make provision for public consultation and consultation with
people in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia”. Public consultation
is a critical step in ensuring that the RTIRC gains a comprehensive
understanding of any issues faced by communities in remote and regional parts
of the country.

"The
(2018 Regional Telecommunications Review) will examine regional
telecommunications issues closely and examine how rural Australians can
maximise the economic and social benefits that next-generation
telecommunication services can provide," said Minister for Regional
Communications Bridget McKenzie. 

"The Coalition government recognises the benefits that
improved connectivity can bring to the families, communities, and businesses in
our regions."

Until
5 August, Australians living in remote and regional regions of Australia can lodge
a formal submission or fill in an online form available on the Australia
Department of Communication and the Arts’ official webpage to voice their
opinions to the committee

Submissions can
either be made public or kept confidential according to individual discretion.

To
further the consultative process, the RTIRC will also schedule public
consultations in designated regional areas across the country over the course
of eight weeks.

"We
want to hear from individuals, businesses and community groups based in
regional Australia about the standard and availability of phone and internet
services for personal and business use," said Mr Sean Edwards, the Chair
for the 2018 RTIRC. 

"The Committee wants you to have your say on what’s
working well for you and if there are gaps in the services you regularly
access."

An
independent body established every three years to undertake an independent
review of telecommunications services in regional, rural and remote Australia,
the 2018 RTIRC is chaired by Mr Sean Edwards, and consists of 5 other members
who possess relevant industry knowledge and technical expertise. 

In conducting
the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review, the committee seeks to investigate
ways to maximise the economic benefits of digital technologies, and analyse
coverage outcomes as well as existing gaps in mobile coverage provided by the
Mobile Black Spot Program in regional Australia.

The
previous round of the Regional Telecommunications Review in 2015 stressed the
importance of mobile coverage, the potential to maximise benefits from the
rollout of the Australian government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) and the
need for more comprehensive consumer safeguards in regional Australia.

In
the issues paper released by the 2018 RTIRC, key areas of interest included how
regional Australians are utilising telecommunications services in areas such as
business, health and education, government investment in regional and remote
telecommunications services, alternative and emerging technologies as well as
rethinking consumer policies and protections; the 2018 issues paper reveals
similar insights to the 2015 version, and reports positive progress with
regards to the rollout of the NBN.

Following
the closure of public consultations by 5 August, the RTIRC will prepare a
report of the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review and submit it to the
Minister for Regional Communications Bridget Mckenzie. The report is expected
to contain key recommendations for refining Australia’s regional telecommunications
policies and initiatives.

The Committee will report to Senator the Hon
Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Regional Communications, by 30 September 2018.

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