By AgForce General President Georgie Somerset
Among other learnings, the COVID pandemic has underlined how much we rely on electronic communication, in particular the internet.
People in the bush have understood the value of reliable internet for years – mostly by virtue of not having had it!
Improving connectivity off the bitumen has been a passion of mine for many years, as it has for groups like BIRRR (Better Internet for Rural, Regional & Remote Australia).
The tenacity of BIRRR and its stalwart Kristy Sparrow – whose genuine care for each person she assists is an inspiration – continues to improve the connectivity and lives of so many.
Most recently, we welcomed Telstra’s announcement that customers could send SMSs over WIFI, making life so much better for those without mobile reception at their house.
Sustained lobbying has also been instrumental in securing funding and identifying priority areas for the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spots Program, under which Round 5 sites have just been announced.
NBN Co has also recently introduced Sky Muster Plus, which offers unmetered access for non-streaming applications including video conferencing – only lately ‘discovered’ vital for urbanites working remotely, but for years accepted as a necessity by people who live thousands of kilometres from customers, business partners…and family.
Sure, we still have a long way to go when it comes to internet services – but can you imagine how much more detrimental COVID may have been even a few years ago, like prior to SkyMuster?
Everyone living in the bush has a role to play too in improving connectivity.
For example, many people think that the NBN is a city thing.
Every Australian resident has a right to an NBN internet connection with free installation – no matter where they live.
If you don’t have NBN, check its availability in your part of the world on the NBN website, have a chat to your telco provider, and/or check out the helpful resources on the BIRRR website.
The world is not going to ‘snap back’ to the way it was before COVID and many of our practices will change forever. This will have lasting impacts on all of us – consumers, producers and businesses large and small.
Now is the perfect time to get good advice, review your internet plan, and make sure you are getting the best possible connection to the outside world for you and your family.