A Commonwealth government funded regional telephone company, Southern Phone, has officially been launched to deliver cheap call rates and competitive long distance call pricing for business and residential customers on the NSW south coast.
The telco is community-owned. All profits made will be returned to 38 local council shareholders. They, in turn, will distribute the profits back to the community.
Southern Phone general manager, Phil Herrick, described the company as being focused on maximising community and social benefit and not just a measure of generating profit.
Company chairman, Bill Hilzinger, said Southern Phone would have a positive impact on health, education and business by allowing them to operate in a more competitive economic environment.
“Southern Phone is great example of three systems working together — federal, state and local government,” he said.
“Our new business plan has thrown out the comfortable pricing models that have kept the big city based companies fat for so long.”
The federal government claims that schools and hospitals on the NSW south coast will be the first beneficiaries of better broadband services at more competitive rates with the rollout of a new high speed internet network.
Minister for communications and IT, Senator Richard Alston, said the expansion into regional areas would provide more accessible and affordable broadband than has been available to date [on the south coast].
According to a spokesperson for the minister, the federal government funded the project with $4.8 million from the ‘Networking the Nation’ program.
“This initiative will not only allow customers to have access to cheaper phone pricing, but it will also give access to better broadband services,” he said.
The government also recently announced funding of $107.8 million for a higher bandwidth incentive scheme aimed at encouraging broadband providers to offer services in rural and remote areas at prices comparable with those available in urban areas.