TIO calls for subsidised satphones in regional areas

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 26 October, 2021

TIO calls for subsidised satphones in regional areas

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) has called for the provision of government-subsidised mobile devices in regional and remote areas capable of accessing both standard mobile and satellite networks.

The TIO made the recommendation during its contribution to the Regional Telecommunications Review 2021. The submission highlights the concerns and key complaints of telco customers living outside of metropolitan areas.

According to the submission, the TIO receives around 30,000 phone and internet complaints annually from consumers living in regional, rural and remote areas. Complaint data shows that the top concerns for these consumers include service reliability, poor service coverage, lack of choice, and weak or damaged network infrastructure.

To address the digital divide, the TIO has recommended that the government promote a wider range of telecommunications services in regional communities through grants and other investment incentives.

Other recommendations include standardising mobile coverage information that is provided by telcos and publishing up-to-date information about what services are available in regional areas, and constructing communal connectivity hubs for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities capable of offering voice, SMS and data access to members of the community.

“Consumers living in regional communities continue to have reduced access to telecommunications services. Regional communities face unique challenges in having a fault repaired or being able to access an alternative service. They also face a greater risk in natural disasters, such as bushfires and floods,” Telecommunications Ombudsman Judi Jones said.

“Providing better access to information about available services could allow consumers to make more informed decisions, encourage competition and bridge the telco divide between metropolitan and regional, rural and remote Australia.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/tolly65

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