Thursday, April 25, 2024

Murrindindi calls on govt to ‘step up’ on broadband blackspots

Murrindindi Shire Council is calling on the State and Federal Government to invest in broadband and mobile services across the Shire to enable communities to grow and prosper.

Council says a new survey by Engage Victoria has shown that an accelerated shift to remote working and learning had placed pressure on connectivity infrastructure.

Engage Victoria’s Connecting Victoria Engagement Report identified several common connectivity issues disproportionately affecting rural and regional Victorians, including:

  • lack of connectivity hindering economic growth;
  • the need to better support remote working, learning and health services;
  • the importance of maintaining connectivity in emergencies.

Engage Victoria received more than 11,000 survey responses (41% from rural Victorians), conducted 13 roundtables and gathered more than 110 formal submissions.

Council’s Community Assets and Emergencies Portfolio Councillor, Sandice McAulay said governments needed to invest in broadband and mobile services in Murrindindi Shire as a matter of urgency.

“Jobs, tourism, health and wellbeing, education and, most importantly, lives depend on quality reliable broadband and mobile connections,” Cr McAulay said. 

“There are numerous mobile blackspots in our region – with particular areas like the Black Spur drive on Maroondah Highway and popular lifestyle areas like Fawcett still with poor or no mobile coverage. This is unacceptable in the 21st century. We are calling on governments to step up.

“Only the centers of Alexandra, Yea and areas in the Kinglake Ranges have access to NBN fibre-based internet and this only provides moderate internet data speeds. All other areas of our municipality are serviced by either fixed-wireless or satellite services – neither of which is reliable or affordable enough for home or business use.   

“The Federal Government promised us all fair and equitable access to the internet, regardless of where we live. That is simply not happening – regional areas are at a distinct disadvantage and pay much more compared to our metropolitan neighbours for mobile internet services, internet access and internet data. There is no equality.

“With many people choosing Murrindindi Shire for a tree-change, now is the time to resolve these issues to enable our communities to grow and develop. Our safety and prosperity relies on it,” Cr McAulay said.

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