2017 Spring - Getting regional infrastructure right

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FPJ1403E - Lamb, D (2017), Telecommunications and Australian Agriculture: Will Top-Down Meet Bottom-Up?

In the past five years the notion of telecommunications as a ‘critical infrastructure’ for rural and regional Australia has well and truly taken root. A number of recent national inquiries concerning telecommunications have been initiated, and in some cases completed. These will have a profound impact, not only to rural and regional Australia in general, but specifically on our ability to realise our digital agriculture future. The role of telecommunications in supporting a digital agriculture future is not necessarily technology constrained; if a farm has access to the mobile network somewhere on the farm, or NBN into the farm house then there is likely technology available to beam it to where it is needed. The real constraint is likely to be around who assumes technical risk, service and price.
Producer frustrations around existing network telecommunications in Australia are fed by a perception that their challenges are not being acknowledged, nor responded to, by network operators or at the industry or national strategic level. This paper considers some of the recent top-down initiatives concerning telecommunications as it relates to Australian producers. In particular we seek to understand the Universal Services Obligation, Mobile Domestic Roaming and opportunities around access and data speeds as it relates to agriculture. We examine whether top-down initiatives will in fact meet the bottom-up needs and expectation of our producers.

FPJ1403E - Lamb, D (2017), Telecommunications and Australian Agriculture: Will Top-Down Meet Bottom-Up?, in Farm Policy Journal, vol. 14, no. 3, Spring 2017, pp. 31-47, Surry Hills, Australia.

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