Australia: Government to subsidise rural broadband

– this just in from New Zealand…

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Australia has adopted what looks to be a sensible way of ensuring that everyone can get access to broadband – the Australian broadband guarantee. It’s aimed at rural users, and includes private citizens and small businesses.

It works like this: if you can’t find a broadband supplier to a reasonable price and quality where you live, you can apply for a subsidised service. Then, one of a pool of ISPs who the government has signed up, will provide service to you at a reasonable price to you and at a quality the government has stipulated, with the government picking up the difference in cost as a subsidy. The government notes that the service may be delivered by satellite or wire depending on what is practical in each case, but the citizen or small business pays the same. The scheme gets going from this April. It sounds simple and should help Australians living in rural areas get a good standard of service, at least as good as those who live in Australian cities do.

The government has allocated A$165m to this, as part of a wider A$2billion investment in broadband. It’s a model New Zealand should be looking at hard, so that people who live outside our cities don’t miss out.

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