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Launch of Telstra Big Pond Advance, Parliament House, Canberra, Wednesday 25 August 1999

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John Anderson, MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Transport and Regional Services



25 August 1999 


Launch of Telstra Big Pond Advance 

Parliament House, Canberra 

Wednesday 25 August 1999

It is, of course, an enormous pleasure for me to be here today to launch Telstra Big Pond Advance.

Just last week I was in my own electorate of Gwydir, at Agquip, the primary industry field days held annually in Gunnedah. Having been there before, I knew pretty much what to expect … a selection of machinery and equipment displays, and information for people on the land … and the successful Women’s Forum to discuss issue of concern to regional, rural and remote Australia.

But just say I was in the market for a second hand 375 horsepower John Deere 89-60 with 4-wheel drive, duals, a 24 speed power synchro transmission, CD player, air conditioning and on board fax machine. In the short time I had available I probably would have had my work cut out finding exactly what I was looking for. That’s where the sort of technology being shown here today could help me. I’d go to the computer, and instead of taking half and hour to download the specs of what’s on offer at Agquip, I can get what I need in a fraction of the time and be on my way.

But that’s only a small part of the story. In the lead-up to the last election, the Coalition promised to amend the Universal Service Obligation (USO) to provide a digital data service to all Australians, of at least 64 kilobits per second.

Big Pond Advance delivers on that promise, and more. Now, instead of the slower old landline telephone link that many rural, regional and remote Australians suffered through, for the first time, they can get what they need, when they need it … and if you want to pay a bit more for an even faster service, it can go up to 400 kilobits per second, bringing information anywhere in the country almost before you know you want it, at speeds up to ten times faster.

The satellite footprint covers all of Australia, so nobody has to miss out. Just think about the family at Hermannsburg, in the Northern Territory, and yes, Tim Fischer, I have been there, perhaps not as many times as you. The mother is doing distance education through Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga. She needs notes and information off the Internet. With this system, she’ll be able to download that information without having to put in her request, go away, make a cup of tea, wait a while longer, and finally, after an eternity, receive the material she needs. It can all happen in an instant.

As Ted has indicated, four per cent of Australians have never been able to access the internet. It’s fitting that in introducing this service to the bush, urban Australians will also feel the benefit. The cable service currently passes about four million homes, about half the population. Big Pond Advance fills the gap for the rest.

And with Newscasting and Webcasting and other ‘push technologies’, subscribers can have the sites they want to look at delivered to their computer hard-drive automatically, and see it when they’re ready to log on. It will cut down the time needed to be spent on line, and maximise convenience for users.

When a farmer gets up in the morning and wants to know whether to harvest the canola, or stay in the machinery shed and fix the John Deere tractor, she can have the day’s weather information sitting there ready at the start of every day.

The Government is right now formulating the arrangements to deliver another election commitment, to provide a reimbursement of up to half the purchase price of the necessary satellite receiving equipment. The subsidy will be funded by the telecommunications industry as part of the USO arrangements.

Big Pond Advance brings accessible internet access to all 19 million Australians. It’s the first time a broadband product has been available Australia-wide, and at the same price for country people as city people.

Farmwide has been conducting trials of the service for 12 months, and already has scores of examples of how high speed internet access can revolutionise life outside the cities.

It delivers on our election promise, and it delivers equitable access to the information age.

I commend this service to all Australians who don’t already have high-speed data facilities. And I look forward to seeing you in the world of high speed data down loading … and when you have the system installed, I can highly recommend the Department of Transport and Regional Services site as a great place to start (

I declare Telstra Big Pond Advance officially launched. Welcome to supersonic cyberspace.



jy  1999-08-27  15:59