Telecommunications: The Australian Broadband Guarantee
The Federal Government recently announced the introduction of the "Australian Broadband Guarantee" which it claims will benefit rural Internet users and eliminate any existing broadband "blackspots". This new program sees the phasing out of two existing rural services that offered subsidised broadband.
But what is the Australia Broadband Guarantee and what exactly can it do for you?
Essentially, the Australian Government is trying to fulfill a promise of providing affordable broadband for every Australian, regardless of whether they live in a metropolitan or rural area. The Guarantee is clear that rural, regional and remote Internet users should receive broadband that is of a comparable standard to customers in metropolitan areas. The Government knows that access to telecommunications may in the future be the reason for social, educational and potentially economic divisions - the "haves" will have an advantage over the "have nots" as society continues to embrace the Internet and related technologies. By working to provide access for more Australians it is trying to eliminate this problem before it has a significant impact.
The Australian Broadband Guarantee sees the elimination of a similar initiative – the $878 million Broadband Connect Incentive (BCI) program – which had similar aims to provide subsidies for Internet service providers that connected customers in rural areas. The Australian Broadband Guarantee merges the BCI with the Metropolitan Broadband Connect program and sees a top up in funding of $162 million.
Benefits for users
The benefits of the Australian Broadband Guarantee program include:
- Subsidised for users who cannot get broadband at their primary place of residence
- Online registry of local broadband providers (Online Broadband Locator)
Benefits for ISPsOnce added to a registry, ISPs will receive payments for connecting users
- Available to ISPs with their own infrastructure
- Option to nominate service area
Internet Service Providers receive subsidies from the Government for providing services to customers whose broadband access is limited. This saving is then passed directly onto consumers, who, it is hoped, will receive broadband for comparable prices to metropolitan customers. These savings over the course of a year could be up to (including GST):
- $2750 - for satellite connections in remote areas, or
- $1100 - for ISDN
Are you eligible for subsidies?
Those eligible for subsidies must meet the primary condition that they are unable to access broadband services at their primary place or residence or business. From April 2007 Internet users will be able to log on to a registry of providers in their areas. If suitable broadband cannot be found, then you may be able to receive subsidies for satellite or ISDN connections. Users can contact an Australian Broadband Guarantee registered provider, who will then provide a subsidised service.
The initial phase of the Australian Broadband Guarantee will extend until the middle of 2008, easing a transition to the Federal Government's Communication Fund roll out.
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