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Rural Aussies call for expansion of broadband monitoring program

Rural Aussies call for expansion of broadband monitoring program

Concerns raised over quality of wireless and satellite connections

Regional Australians are concerned that they will be denied their say in the latest broadband speed monitoring program launched by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

According to a report on ABC Radio, the National Farmers Federation and a coalition of bush groups have received “a litany of complaints” about the service being provided. The groups have called on the consumer watchdog to broaden its enquiry.

Under its current format, the enquiry is only addressing the delivery of NBN services over fixed infrastructure. This has sparked concerns from those in rural and remote areas who are due to get their NBN service over a satellite or wireless connection. According to the regulator, the program is expected to cost around $7 million to deliver over four years.

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called on more individuals and businesses to contribute to the program by agreeing to log internet speeds.

The ACCC published a notice of its intention to commence an open tender to appoint an independent testing provider for the program on 22 May.

The watchdog said, at the time, it was planning to publish an approach to market with the intent of procuring an independent third party provider to measure and report on the broadband performance of various broadband services, technologies, speed plans and geographical areas.

On 7 April, the Government made funding available for a new broadband performance monitoring program aimed at providing consumers with accurate and independent information about broadband speeds.

“This program will see the ACCC test and report on the typical speed and performance of broadband plans provided over the NBN," ACCC chairman, Rod Sims, said at the time.

"This information will assist consumers in comparing and shopping around, and checking that they receive what they are paying for.

"The program will also allow the ACCC to determine if issues are being caused by the performance of the NBN, or by internet service providers (ISPs) not buying sufficient capacity. It will also provide ISPs with independent performance information from which to draw when making speed claims,” Sims added.

The National Farmers Federation CEO, Tony Mahar, told The ABC that Australians in rural and remote areas were left out of these schemes too often.

“We regularly hear about coverage and connectivity in the bush and how much of an issue it is,” he said.

“In some cases, worrying stories of people going to the tops of hiss, silos or fence posts just to get coverage and connectivity.”

The ACCC is still looking for individuals and businesses to contribute to the program.


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