Rural communities fear ‘data drought’ despite launch of NBN satellite Sky Muster

ABC News

Frustrated rural internet customers fear it could be 18 months before their substandard services are improved by the National Broadband Network (NBN Co) satellite Sky Muster.

The new half-a-billion-dollar satellite was launched this week, but due to months of testing will not be commercially available until mid-2016. Central Queensland farmer Kristy Sparrow said the bush cannot wait that long. Ms Sparrow has called on NBN Co to do more to improve speeds and lift data limits for those struggling with the congested interim satellite service (ISS), which Sky Muster will replace.

To address the congestion on the oversold system NBN Co introduced a fair use policy at the start of the year. All ISS users had their data plans cut.

Megan Munchenberg from Gregory Downs station in far north Queensland has seen the impact on her two children, who study by school of the air.

Alex Appleton doing distance education from schoolroom on Islay Plains Station, Alpha Queensland.

Alex Appleton doing distance education from schoolroom on Islay Plains Station, Alpha Queensland.

In March the station schoolroom’s 100 gigabyte plan was halved to 50 gigabytes, then three months later reduced to 45 gigabytes.

“Each child by standard has been recommended that they need 20 gigabytes month each. Currently we have 20 gigabytes for five children,” she said.

Despite rationing, the schoolroom cannot make it through the month, and their internet is “shaped”, or drastically slowed. “It’s pretty much just turn the computer off and walk away because the ability to do anything is impossible,” Ms Munchenberg said.

NBN Co’s general manager for fixed wireless and satellite, Gavin Williams, said he does not like to hear stories of hardship caused by the ISS.

“It’s incredibly humbling when you hear the real world impacts of individuals in the bush just trying to do things that people in the city just take for granted,” he said.

“When you can’t do a banking transaction because it times out, that a kid has to get up at 5:00am to do a lesson, they’re heartbreaking stories.”

Ms Sparrow said there is an information drought about the new long-term satellite service (LSS) and called on NBN Co to provide more information.

“How much are these families going to be able to access? What data limits? What costs? How long is it going to take to service every family?” she said.

“It’s a digital world and there’s a digital divide. The interim satellite at least deserves to be fixed until then.”

Read more.

Government releases Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper

Excerpt below taken from Australian Government’s ‘White Paper at a Glance’

Stronger farmers, stronger economy

Agriculture has always played an important role in the success of our nation—it touches all Australians.

The Government is committed to strengthening the sector and ensuring it remains as competitive as possible, because stronger farmers mean a stronger Australian econ​omy.

The opportunities for the sector are enormous. We sit on the edge of the strongest growing region in the world, have a developed agriculture sector, have world-class food safety and environmental credentials, possess modern technology, have a strong economy and employ skilled labour.

The agriculture sector is well placed to prosper.

For the past 18 months the Government has listened to the challenges that farmers are facing and discussed what is required for them to be successful on the land. From this feedback we h​ave developed the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

The White Paper outlines the initiatives and commitments by the Australian Government for each of our five priority areas for action. It is a $4 billion investment in our farmers.

For more details on the White Paper, visit the Government’s dedicated page here.

To download the White Paper click here.

Mayor of Dubbo to present on the NBN at the Australian Regional Development Conference


The Mayor of Dubbo, Councillor Mathew Dickerson, will present at the Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at the Commercial Club Albury on the 26– 27 August 2015.

Mayor of Dubbo, Councillor Mathew Dickerson

Mayor of Dubbo, Councillor Mathew Dickerson

Speaker Bio:   Councillor Mathew Dickerson has a small business career that goes back to when he was aged 12 when he started his first small business, and has since started a total of 6 small businesses.

He has a long history of success in small business both from a financial perspective but also winning many awards. Among some of the major awards collected Mathew has the Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year, the Australian Business Council Award for Innovation and the Small Business Champions Award as the best IT business in Australia.

Mathew still retains ownership of two small businesses but spends his time writing and talking about small business with the most successful of his three books called Small Business Ru!es. He also writes a monthly column for a nationwide magazine, a fortnightly column for an American magazine and appears as a permanent guest on the nationwide Tony Delroy show to discuss small business concepts.

In his spare time he spends time with his wife and four children, he is an active member of Mensa, races Mountain Bikes and has served his local community as their Mayor since 2011.

Presentation Title:   Is the NBN the saviour of Regional Australia?

Presentation Overview: A population concentration map of Australia from the early 1900s showed many population centres across the nation. In essence, people needed to live where they worked. Along came the motor car – and then air travel – and a population concentration map of Australia today is vastly different with minimal population centres away from the coastal capitals. Overwhelmingly people are now choosing where they lived based on the hard to define quality of ‘amenity’. In short, for regional Australia to attract people, towns and cities across the nation must offer equivalent – or better – services and infrastructure to what major cities offer. The NBN is a key piece of this magical quality of ‘amenity’ and, if your town or city is connected to the NBN, how can you leverage off that to grow your population and GDP.

To be redirected to the Australian Regional Development Conference website please click here.

Call for Abstracts Open for Australian Regional Development Conference

Call for Abstracts are open for the Australian Regional Development Conference, an initiative of the Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., a non-Government ‘not-for-profit’ organisation. The program will include an extensive range of topics with Keynote Presenters, Concurrent Sessions, Case Studies, Workshops and Poster Presentations.

Authors or organisations interested in submitting a paper or presenting a workshop are invited to submit an abstract of no more than 300 words outlining the aims, contents and conclusions of their paper or presentation; or about their intended role in a workshop.

The Conference Streams are below (followed by sub-themes for concurrent sessions):

  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

Sub themes for concurrent sessions:

  • Innovation
  • Infrastructure
  • Cultural Tourism / Regional Tourism Development
  • Free Trade Agreements
  • Transport and Logistics
  • NBN / Broadband Communication
  • Banking / Finance

All presenters at the conference can have papers included in the “Book of Proceedings” which is published internationally with an ISBN number. Peer reviewing is available. Delegates also have access to the podcast resource, post conference. A collection of presentations on Regional Development recorded in 2014 and 2015.

For more information or to submit an abstract, please click here.