AN UPGRADE to country internet speeds has been welcomed by farmers.
The National Farmers' Federation has applauded today's announcement by the Federal Government that internet speeds in rural and remote Australia will double.
The National Broadband Network's fixed wireless and long term satellite services will be upgraded to provide broadband speeds of 25 megabits per second download and 5 megabits per second upload, according to the Commonwealth.
NFF president Jock Laurie said the decision, which will see fixed-wireless speeds increase from June, and satellite from 2015, was a step in the right direction.
"We firmly believe farming families, rural businesses and communities should have comparable accessibility, reliability, quality and affordability in their telecommunications as those in urban areas do,'' Mr Laurie said.
"We've been saying this to the Government for a long time most recently through our Budget Submission just last week and it's good to see that they are listening.
"This time last year the Government announced the building of two new satellites to deliver high speed broadband to those who would miss out on the National Broadband Network, today, they have announced that internet speeds in rural and remote Australia will double, ensuring speeds as good as or faster than ADSL2+ services currently available in the cities.
"We're also pleased to note that the Government will ensure uniform national wholesale pricing for these increased speeds, which means farms and rural businesses will pay the same wholesale price as people in the cities for the equivalent service as recommended by last year's Rural Telecommunications Review.
"This decision is about ensuring rural and regional Australians are not disadvantaged when it comes to telecommunications and we look forward to working with the Government and the Opposition to ensure the agriculture sector can unlock the potential of the infrastructure provided and participate in the digital economy.''
But Mr Laurie said many people in rural areas still struggled with poor mobile coverage - something urban areas take for granted.
"Having faster internet speeds and equivalent pricing is excellent but many farmers and rural business can't take advantage of new technologies and telecommunications options because of limited mobile coverage,'' he said.
"While today's announcement is a great step forward, we still look forward to the day when all Australia's have equal access to telecommunications.''
Meanwhile, when announcing the upgrades, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the upgrade would mean people living in regional and remote Australia would be able to access significantly faster speeds than what is available now through ADSL services.''
"This upgrade represents a doubling of speeds for the NBN's fixed wireless and satellite services,'' he said.
"It will lead to improved education and health services for regional and remote Australia, as well as greater opportunities for small businesses and agriculture.
"For too long, people living in regional and rural Australia have had to put up with slow, unreliable internet services if they could get a connection at all.
"The Government's investment in the NBN means all Australians, no matter where they live, will have access to faster broadband services.
"Like water and electricity, the Gillard Government sees fast broadband as an essential utility that should be made available to all Australians.
"The price for customers for the 25/5 Mbps service on fixed wireless and satellite will be the same as that charged for 25/5 Mbps fibre services at around $40 per month.''
For information visit www.nbnco.com.au/rollout