Regional Australia needs better digital connectivity and it needs it now, says the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC).
Many regional businesses use digital technologies in a variety of ways to improve their productivity and generate higher profits. However, for many regional businesses, the quality and reliability of internet access services and mobile phone reception are substandard, limiting a business’ ability to grow, employ staff and better service customers.
“Slow download times coupled with constant disruptions, drop-outs and outages make it almost impossible for regional businesses to rely on the network,” said VACC Chief Executive Officer, Geoff Gwilym.
“There are repeated reports of poor mobile phone reception in some regions, which limits effective communication between businesses and their customers, resulting in numerous missed calls, lost business and consumer dissatisfaction.”
Tractors, harvesters and other agricultural machinery are now interconnected via satellite services. Service and diagnostic capabilities, as well as GPS, are built into their systems, which communicate through 4G technology.
The impact of poor quality and unreliable digital connectivity sees some businesses resorting to fixed cable in a bid to solve issues such as slow broadband speeds and irregularities in their wireless connection. Others have installed large antennas to fix problems with their satellite connections.
“The cost of some digital technologies – such as the National Broadband Sky Muster satellite – is so prohibitive that they remain out of reach for many small businesses and it has affected the broader uptake,” said Gwilym.
Good mobile phone coverage is a business imperative. Government needs to support and facilitate investment to improve mobile phone coverage and provide reliable internet connectivity across regional Australia.