Building Digital Inclusion in Remote Australia: Joining the Dirt Tracks to thesuperhighway


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Presented by Daniel Featherstone on behalf of Indigenous Remote Communications Association at the ACCAN Conference 5/9/2012

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  • - Supports 8 RIMOs and over 150 RIBS communities Advocate to government on media and communications needs across remote Australia
  • There are 1113 remote Indigenous communities across Australia.
  • Existing fibre-optic cable rolled out to remote communities not connected to NBN. This could extend the network significantly.
  • Our mob fall within the 7% Remote solution under NBN is 12/1 Mbps. Latency, asymmetry, usage cost structures, maintenance costs, download caps, contention ratios, real-time streaming capability, network management, last-mile delivery systems, and ability to aggregate usage within a community or region, will all help to determine the usefulness and potential uptake and future applications in remote communities. IRCA strongly urges the use of terrestrial broadband delivery (i.e. fibre optic or microwave) rather than satellite backhaul delivery for remote areas to reduce ongoing costs and latency, improve reliability and provide future capacity;
  • NBN is important nation-building program, but it needs complementary programs. Reliable, affordable and effective telecommunications are essential to the ongoing sustainability of remote communities
  • Basic telephony needs in remote communities should be addressed as a matter of priority. Mobile telephony should be seen as a primary telephony service for remote Australia – people are mobile, have an individual phone, not shared with large households, pre-paid, and allows internet access USO arrangement to ensure affordable access/ capped calls; Local exchange upgrades and last-mile networking audits should be carried out to ensure access for Indigenous users; Sufficient broadband capacity be provided to enable use of two-way streaming applications (fast upload as well as download) , including telephony, videoconferencing ( used in tele-health, education/ training, justice etc- saves lives. , VoIP, IP-TV
  • Rec 2.6 - There should be a continuation and expansion of the Indigenous Communications Program, with sufficient flexibility to allow for tailored localised training and digital literacy solutions. The program should include a trial of wi-fi hotspots using selected community phones. (Response: DBCDE is conducting a trial of internet kiosks using the Interim Satellite Service in three remote Indigenous communities. DBCDE is also planning to conduct a trial of wi-fi enabled community phones in six locations, with the results available in early 2013. ) Rec 2.7 - The ACMA and DBCDE should report on the status of remote Indigenous communities in respect of telecommunications to monitor the digital divide, including through the collection of data on availability, take-up and usage. ( Govt response only notes the ‘vital assistance provided by the ICP’, and again “this recommendation will require further consideration”) Also: Rec 5.1 - It is critically important to better understand the economic, social and workforce participation challenges faced by vulnerable and disadvantaged groups. The ACMA should develop metrics and collect data on these challenges, including the contribution improved access to high-speed broadband could make to increasing workforce participation of these groups. Rec 32- The committee recommends a co-investment program, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and interested states or territory governments, to expand the mobile coverage footprint in regional Australia, focusing on priority regions selected with community input. Open-access arrangements for other carriers to tower infrastructure and/or domestic roaming arrangements should be a feature of the program. (Govt response- The only solution in the response involving development is to look at possible shared use of NBN wireless towers, however the NBN wireless towers will have minimal presence in the remote areas as they are to be almost solely located in regional areas) No mention of extending mobile telephony in remote areas. WA gov’t doing $110 million co-investment mobile rollout program in regional and remote WA. Rec 4.1- The principle of a uniform national wholesale price for like services across technology platforms is essential on an equity basis and should be a fundamental tenet of future policy in this area. Rec 4.4 The committee recommends that, as a priority, clear information about the ISS and the long-term satellite solution should be provided to people and organisations in areas that will be served by satellite. There will be benefits in developing case studies that demonstrate, in real life situations including shared connections, the range of broadband applications that can be used effectively over satellite technology. Rec 4.6 NBN Co should: 1) Consider community reference groups as a means of gathering local community input and advice on the network rollout. 2) Actively seek opportunities for collaboration with state and territory governments to achieve better results or efficiencies in the network rollout. (Response: NBN Co has been actively seeking opportunities for collaboration with state and territory governments to achieve better results and efficiencies in the network rollout through its capacity as a member of the NBN Liaison Group (NBNLG). NBN Co has encouraged states and territories to form internal coordination groups or taskforces to facilitate cross-government liaison. ) What about community reference groups? Rec 4.7 NBN Co should develop a clear network extension policy. NBN Co’s network extension policy should make provision for community contributions. Re 5.2 - To provide practical assistance to improve digital literacy in regional Australia, the government should expand the Digital Hubs program into additional regional areas, not limited to NBN release sites. Rec 5.3 - Not-for-profit organisations should be supported to work together to strengthen their digital literacy capabilities and develop local strategies to take advantage of the digital economy. (Govt response: The Government has already provided $10 million over three years to establish the Digital Enterprise program to help small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations in 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN). Rec 5.5 – A National Digital Productivity Council of Experts in regional service delivery should be established to ensure significant digital productivity issues are addressed and to provide a formal coordination mechanism for the Commonwealth, states and territories. (Govt Response: the Government is investigating whether there are existing forums that could undertake this work or whether it is necessary to create a new body as recommended by the Sinclair Review ) Rec 5.7- To enhance the digital literacy and preparedness of regional small businesses, the Digital Enterprise program should be expanded into additional regional areas not limited to NBN release sites. DBCDE should also work with state and territory governments to encourage businesses to participate more fully in the digital economy.
  • Need supplementary programs to build on the NBN to overcome the digital divide. Remote people aren’t digital ready. Very few remote Indigenous people have home IT access Last-mile delivery (eg-via WiFi) enables aggregation of use and cost Need access facilities, including after hours access Need training and IT support (ongoing) Need relevant content and applications Need regional strategies/partnerships and local ownership
  • Partners- Ngaanyatjarra Council, Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, WA Government, Australian Government, Telstra, Ngaanyatjarra Media $5.8million project completed 2007 400km of fibre optic cable rolled out to reach 6 communities 6 more remote sites provided shared broadband satellite Shared service distributed via WiFi to community in all 12 sites
  • Remote Indigenous people are rapid uptakers of new techs but need affordable, reliable, appropriate access. We need recurrent funding programs for IT training, access facilities, tech support, application and content creation; Mobile telephony should be seen as a primary telephony service for remote Australia, with a USO arrangement to ensure affordable access/ capped calls; Also videoconferencing- used in tele-health, education/ training , justice etc- saves lives.
  • Building Digital Inclusion in Remote Australia: Joining the Dirt Tracks to thesuperhighway

    1. 1. Presenter: Daniel FeatherstonePresenter: Daniel FeatherstoneIndigenous Remote Communications AssociationIndigenous Remote Communications AssociationACCAN Conference 5ACCAN Conference 5ththSeptember 2012September 2012Building Digital InclusionBuilding Digital Inclusionin Remote Australia:in Remote Australia:Joining the Dirt Tracks to the SuperhighwayJoining the Dirt Tracks to the Superhighway
    2. 2. Pilbara andKimberley AboriginalMediaTop End Aboriginal BushBroadcasting AssociationPitjantjatjaraYankunytjatjaraMediaCentral AustralianCentral AustralianAboriginal MediaAboriginal MediaAssociationAssociationPintupi AnmatjerreWarlpiri MediaNgaanyatjarraMediaTorres Strait IslandsTorres Strait IslandsMedia AssociationMedia AssociationQueensland RemoteAboriginal MediaIndigenous Remote Communications Association represents themedia and communications interests of remote Indigenous Australia
    3. 3. Remote Indigenous Communities
    4. 4. Fibre Optic Cable in Remote Australia (2001)
    5. 5. NBN coverage
    6. 6. “A digital divide exists between Indigenousand non-Indigenous Australia.”(Finding 2.11, Regional Telecommunications Review 2011-12)
    7. 7.  High unmet demand for basic telephony services Mobile telephony is the most appropriate form of telecommunications Existing remote fibre networks are not linked into the NBN Very low home internet access and IT equipment Market model of NBN breaks down in remote Australia Latency and asymmetry in NBN satellite solution restricts keyapplications - health, education, justice, IPTV etcThe Gaps in Remote Australia
    8. 8. RTR Key Recommendations Indigenous Communications Program should be expanded, including a trial ofwi-fi hotspots using selected community phones. (Rec 2.6) ACMA & DBCDE should report on telecoms in remote Indigenous communitiesto monitor the digital divide, including data on availability, take-up & usage. (Rec2.7, 5.1) Co-investment program, funded by Commonwealth/state/territorygovernments, to expand the mobile coverage footprint in regional Australia.(Rec 3.2)  NBN Co should consider community reference groups as a means of gatheringlocal community input and advice on the network rollout. (Rec 4.6) Digital Hubs, Digital Enterprise and Digital Local Government Programs shouldbe expanded into additional remote and regional areas, not just NBN releasesites. (Recs 5.2,5.7,5.9)
    9. 9. Other strategies are needed for Digital inclusion.Relevant content Local strategiesTraining and supportLast-mile deliveryAccess facilities Relevant applications
    10. 10. Case Study: NgaanyatjarraLands TelecommunicationsProject
    11. 11. Community uses of broadband
    12. 12. The Broadband for theBush AllianceAn evolving group of remote organisationsand people with a shared purpose:1.shared voice2.single access point3.Coordinate collaborations/trials/projects/research; and4.Build capacity of stakeholders in use ofNBN infrastructure.For more info contact:Mike Crowe08 8959