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Rural and remote Gippsland residents are encouraged to complete mobile coverage reliability survey by 12 March 2023
Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud is calling for government intervention to ensure Australians in regional and remote areas have adequate mobile coverage, because telcos have failed to provide an adequate service.
Leader of The Nationals David Littleproud said extending and reforming the Universal Service Guarantee (USG) to mobile phones from landlines and introducing mandated mobile roaming in 2023 was essential to grow the regions and protect lives.
The ACCC is seeking your views through either an online survey, or a written submission (or both), which can be submitted on or before 12 March 2023
Decision to rule out
Mr Littleproud said, "In 2023, communication has never been more important. It's critical as a safety and emergency response, enabling better commerce, business and social interaction in areas of limited network coverage."
Mr Littleproud said he supported the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) recent decision to rule out a 10-year mobile infrastructure sharing deal with Telstra and TPG Telecom because more than 700 towers would have been lost. Mandating roaming in regional and remote areas, however, would share all the towers between all the telcos, which in turn, would maintain and improve coverage and competition.
Mr Littleproud said the former Coalition government funded more than 1200 new or upgraded mobile base stations under their Mobile Phone Black Spot Program, which the telcos benefited from. He said there now needed to be regulatory guidelines to make sure they could be used by all Australians, no matter what telco they were with.
Maintain mobile towers
Mr Littleproud said if mandated domestic roaming in rural areas was introduced in concert with reforms to the USG that extended to mobile service and removed the averaging provisions that currently allows Telstra - the recipient of the $270 million in USG funding - to have landline customers without phones for months, then services would improve.
"The USG isn't working and needs reform, which was highlighted in the Regional Telecommunications Review handed down just before the federal election, yet the new government has made no commitment to implement its recommendations."
"Telcos should also be forced to maintain mobile towers, not just landlines. Unfortunately, the October 2022 Budget also revealed cuts to regional telecommunications despite the urgent need for improvements." Mr Littleproud said.
Complete a survey
The former Coalition government directed an ACCC inquiry into mobile roaming, to focus on the costs and access to telecommunications towers and facilities. Mr Littleproud encouraged those living in rural and remote locations to complete the online survey through Regional Mobile Infrastructure Inquiry - Consumer Survey page.
"I'm urging our regional communities to provide input into the consultation process, open until February and prior to the publication of the Regional Mobile Infrastructure Inquiry draft report in April, 2023." Mr Littleproud said.
Pictures from The Nationals for Regional Victoria website.
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