AgForce has welcomed a commitment by the Federal Government and Telstra to improve the reliability of the regional, rural and remote landline phone network by repairing or replacing the 1,000 worst performing landline cables.
AgForce General President Georgie Somerset said that the Regional Telecommunications Review published late last year highlighted that telephone lines save lives in rural and regional communities.
"The recent North Queensland flood disaster highlighted that and proved that reliable landlines in the bush are critical," she said.
"Farmers have long been frustrated about extended faults and repair times for landline services. Their landline is still the most reliable telecommunications option they have - often if there's cloud cover satellite internet drops out and many of our members do not have reliable mobile coverage.
"There currently isn't any reliable voice alternative for Australians living in rural and remote communities, which is why our landlines also need to be independent of other technology."
The Nth Qld flood disaster proved that reliable landlines for those in remote areas are critical. AgForce welcomes commitment by the Govt and Telstra to improve the reliability of their regional landline network. @senbmckenzie @australianfarmers @andy_penn@Telstra@ABCRuralhttps://t.co/ducGrwTVk3— AgForce Queensland (@AgForceQLD) March 12, 2019
Mrs Somerset said that AgForce policy was to have two separate connections to a property such as a landline and satellite internet connection, to maintain service reliability.
While AgForce has welcomed Telstra's initiative to repair and replace around 1,000 telephone cables in the bush, Mrs Somerset said that this should happen automatically under a Universal Service Obligation (USO).
"We're happy with the announcement, but we're also calling for a strengthening of the USO to ensure that the landline network in rural and remote Australia is adequately serviced until alternative reliable voice options are available," she said.
"It's disappointing to think that these works wouldn't be happening without government intervention."
AgForce has also called for the government to support and implement all 10 recommendations of the Regional Telecommunications Review, which includes technology upgrades that focus on high value agricultural areas, including landline upgrades and repairs.
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