NSW Farmers protest poor rural mobile coverage

Farming association protests government and industry "inaction"

Members of NSW Farmers have voiced their frustration at poor coverage and "recent inaction of service providers and government to make any substantial improvements to expand coverage" at the association's annual conference in Chatswood this week.

“For service providers, the decision to expand mobile coverage is a commercial one and because of lower population densities in regional areas expanding coverage is often not considered commercially viable,” said Sarah Thompson, chair of the NSW Farmers rural affairs committee.

“What farmers would like to see is a dedicated program and funding arrangements to address regional mobile black spots that involves both state and federal governments as well as service providers.

“Open-access arrangements for network infrastructure would also assist in pricing and customer service for regional users.”

NSW Farmers conducted a survey in 2011 that found about 70 per cent of farmers across the state had inadequate or no mobile coverage on the farm.

While farmers are excited that the NBN will improve access to fixed-line broadband, mobile has been ignored, said Thompson. “Throughout the NBN process many farmers believe that regional mobile phone black spots have been forgotten.”

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, representing the wireless industry, declined to comment.

Earlier this week, Telsta announced it would add 4G coverage for 200 regional towns across Australia, expanding its reach to 85 per cent of the population.

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Tags mobilewireless3g4gfarmingcoverageregionalruralNew South Wales (NSW)

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