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Tuesday, 1 May 1984
Page: 1434

(Question No. 397)

Senator Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 5 October 1983:

(1) Will STD services be available to remote rural property owners in all States and Territories of the Commonwealth at normal subscriber costs after the positioning in space of the communications satellite.

(2) Will rural landowners be required to set up and maintain at their own expense the necessary radio reception dishes; if so, what is the estimated cost of this equipment when the satellite becomes functional.

Senator Button —The Minister for Communications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question, based on advice from the Australian Telecommunications Commission:

(1) and (2) Telecom's rural and remote areas program which has been developed to provide automatic STD telephone services to people in these areas is expected to be largely completed by 1990. Telecom plans to provide these services in the remote areas mainly by utilising the terrestrial digital radio concentrator system (DRCS) commencing in 1984. The connection fees payable under Telecom's rural fees policy would apply for services provided by the use of the DRCS.

Telecom has not yet developed customer charges for the provision of telephone services via the satellite. However, because of the very high costs involved it sees the primary market for satellite telephone services in remote areas being for commercial ventures such as mining sites, exploration sites and tourist developments but services may be provided also to smaller communities and landowners. The installed costs of a remote rural station and associated terminal equipment required to provide service begin at an amount of $60,000. To this must be added annual costs for the use of the satellite transponder, the main rural station and special exchange equipment. Telecom has advised that the charges for services provided by the satellite system, including contributions to the connection costs will take into account the much higher costs of the satellite system.