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Analogues mobile phone coverage in bush to stay



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FEDERAL MEMBER FOR HUME

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ANALOGUE MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE IN RUSH TO STAY

John Sharp today welcomed the Federal Government’s decision to retain the analogue (AMPS) mobile phone network in rural and regional Australia past next year’s planned closure, overiding Labor’s decision to close it down.

Mr Sharp, Federal Member for Hums, described the announcement as a positive breakthrough for regional Australia, saying it would put an end to some of the uncertainty surrounding mobile phone coverage in country areas caused by Labor’s incompetent handling of the matter.

“This is what the National Party has been campaigning for and it is a win for rural and regional Australia. Switching off the analogue network would have undoubtedly set regional Australia back ten years,” he said.

“The National Party will be monitoring progress carefully over the coming months to ensure all country areas which currently receive the analogue service continue to receive a service at least equivalent to what is now in place and that the digital (GSM) network is expanded into areas where it will provide equivalent coverage.”

Mr Sharp said he was pleased the inquiry into the current levels of analogue coverage would be completed within the first half of this year.

“Communication is one of the major issues facing regional Australia and it is vital decisions on which areas will retain analogue service and which are to be upgraded to digital are made early,” he said.

“The uncertainly of the issue has frustrated people in the bush since Labor announced in 1992 that the analogue service would be closed down, yet six years later many areas are still haven’t been upgrade to digital and many others are'without mobile phone coverage at all.

“It was a irresponsible decision by the Labor Government in the first place and again proves how completely ignorant the Labor Party is of the issues that matter to rural Australians.”

Tens of thousands of regional and rural Australians currently depend on the analogue service.

Ends....HI 8/98 5/2/98

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