The Australian government has announced that its three-yearly review of regional telecommunications services will begin shortly, with Regional Communications Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie unveiling the new committee.
"The review will examine regional telecommunications issues closely and examine how rural Australians can maximise the economic and social benefits that next-generation telecommunication services can provide," McKenzie, who was appointed as minister in December, said on Monday.
"The Coalition government recognises the benefits that improved connectivity can bring to the families, communities, and businesses in our regions."
The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee pointed towards health and education as primary factors in considering whether regional telco access is suitable.
"Though the government has already delivered great improvements in regional telecommunications, this cannot be the end of the story," committee member Johanna Plante said.
"With technologies continuously evolving, we need a sustainable framework that ensures regional areas will have timely access to the business and social opportunities flowing from such innovations. This is what I see as the challenge for this review."
Plante previously served as chair of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), with the group welcoming the review and saying Plante "understands these issues first hand".
"There is much room for improvement when it comes to bush telecommunications," ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said. "Improving connectivity can dramatically improve people's lives, in particular through access to vital services such as health and education."
National Farmers' Federation's Telecommunications Committee chair Georgie Somerset added that the review is coming at a "critical point in time for Australian agriculture".
"Farms are becoming increasingly digitalised, yet we remain hampered by a lack of connectivity, and we know this connectivity is needed to take our industry to