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Broadband for the Bush Alliance

Grant round: 2017-18

Amount: $51,005

This project analyses the data obtained through the Broadband for the Bush Alliance (B4BA) national survey. The survey focuses on regional, rural and remote Australia, investigating the availability, quality, reliability and affordability experiences of network member organisations and their networks. The survey also investigates how consumers use their telecommunications services. Additionally, in-depth case studies provide a rich data set of consumers’ stories in the use of telecommunications services. The results provide B4BA, ACCAN, RRRCC, IRCA and other interested parties rigorously analysed data that can inform policy and strategy. This research addresses specific research needs identified by B4BA’s Strategic Business Plan and Forum VI.

Overview of findings:

  • Affordability: Survey respondants indicated there was a general trend to services being more affordable in urban areas and less affordable in rural, remote and regional areas (RRR). Many respondants commented that the services would be affordable if they were actually able to use the services, however significant barriers including speed and reliablity meant that services were poor value for money.
  • Speed of services: RRR people generally felt that speeds of internet services were poor, while urban respondants were happy with their internet speed.
  • Relability of telecommunications sevices: Survey respondants from RRR areas reported that their services were very unreliable, however noted that WiFi calling has been a 'game changer' in providing better voice services in comparison with fixed line services.
  • Fault rectification: The survey found that fault rectification is a major area of consumer dissatisfaction, with many respondants reporting a need to result to the Ombudsman to have their issues resolved. Respondants categorised seeking assistance as 'difficult, stressful and frustrating' - with RRR people waiting up to 6 weeks for their fault to be rectified.
  • Telehealth: Although a number of respondants had heard of telehealth before, only a small percentage of respondants had used the service. Respondants reported a number of barriers in accessing telehealth services including inadequate internet service and data allowance, consultations not being billable to Medicare, and a lack of access to specialists.

 

The full report, including recommendations, will be published in March/April 2019.