Local, Independant and Effective

Government should act now to improve nbn™ for Indi

Posted December 02, 2016


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (19:12): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) the nbnTM Fair Use Policy is unfair for rural and regional Australia;

(b) rural nbnTM users have restricted data speeds, limits on capacity and have to pay more for a poorer service;

(c) under the nbnTM Interim Satellite Service, rural users had 'off peak' data from 11 pm to 2 pm;

(d) on the new nbnTM Sky MusterTM Satellite Service, the 'off peak' data has now changed to between 1 am and 7 am; and

(e) the consequence of the nbnTM Fair Use Policy is that businesses, students, home workers and farmers have reduced Internet access and pay comparatively more; and

(2) calls on the Government to:

(a) implement the recommendations of the 2015 Regional Telecommunications Review and review the nbnTM Fair Use Policy in light of the impact on rural families and businesses;

(b) maximise the amount of data available under the satellite service; and

(c) revert the off-peak period in the nbnTM Fair Use Policy to 11 pm to 2 pm, to accommodate the realities of rural life.

In the Weekly Times recently, there was a very poignant story of a farmer and a businesswoman and the problems she has had with NBN access:

Bonnie Doon organic lamb and beef producer Carolyn Suggate struggles to divvy up her 40GB monthly NBN Sky Muster download allowance between her farm, work and three data-hungry children.

'My son is about to enter Year 12 and can't use the internet at home for downloading anything substantial,' said Ms Suggate, who has an online beef and lamb business, and is the administrator of the Organic Federation of Australia. 'They talk about the difficulties of remote students, but we're not in the Kimberleys. Imagine telling a city kid that they can't get internet after school?'

Ms Suggate and her family live a 20-minute drive from Mansfield—

in north-east Victoria—

but fall 2km outside of the reach of the local NBN fixed wireless tower.

They have had to sign up to the NBN satellite service, which caps their data allowance at 40GB a month during the NBN-defined peak period of 7 am to 1 am.

'We've got access to another 100 gigs a month, off peak, but that is from 1am to 7am,' she said—

not much use. Not only is data and access a problem but she also talks about the problems they are having with the system:

Since connecting to the NBN satellite system 10 weeks ago, Ms Suggate and her family have experienced an outage a week, most of which last for hours, not minutes.

So we have some problems that we really need to address. As you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker, the telecommunications landscape is changing. Smart devices and online communication are now essential for businesses in Australia, and rural Australians want to capitalise on these innovations. Whether it be for small business, rural education, social connectivity, e-health, remote management of industry, automation on our farms or emergency services, we are beginning to come to rely on the internet and the connectivity it gives us. Many people were looking forward to the NBN and to the better internet access it would provide. However, in my electorate many people are now concerned about affordability and value as they pay twice what their metro counterparts are paying for a limited satellite service. This makes it very difficult for rural businesses to compete.

In bringing my comments to a close, I call on the government to really take heed of the 2015 review recommendations and to move towards a more equitable model of service delivery in regional areas. I call on the government to manage and prioritise demand on NBN satellite services to ensure that satellite, the structure of the NBN Co's fair use policy and the wholesale tariffs minimise the negative impact on rural and regional businesses and users.

Tonight, I particularly want to acknowledge the people of my community. We have heard your call. We are very happy to bring your issues to the government and to the parliament and to continue to work to make this service better for all of us. Thank you.

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