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Wednesday, 16 May 1973
Page: 2166

Mr WHAN (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. In view of the high cost involved in providing telephone connections to isolated areas, is the Post Office investigating alternative communication systems for these areas? If so, what progress has been made in developing new technologies in communication?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The provision of telephone services to isolated areas has always been a problem for Australia. Because of distance and terrain large financial expenditures are required to provide communication in what are deemed to be remote areas. The honourable member himself would know that there are areas within his electorate which would well fall within this category. At all times the Post Office has had a research team working in this field. It has developed a number of new techniques from time to time.

Some of them involve radio systems, and they are improving so much that we have an excellent one coming into operation, I understand, on a trial basis this year. It would be applicable within a 10 to 50 miles radius of an exchange. Further there is a subscriber cable which can be used where radio is not appropriate. Again I am told that, as a result of research done by the Australian Post Office, what is known as a long line telephone has been developed. Six thousand of them are in the process of being manufactured in Australia and will be available this year. This telephone will give twice ' the distance efficiency than formerly applied. However the best solution to the problem of remoteness is a satellite, and the Post Office has already encouraged a feasibility survey on the basis that a satellite would be available in this country. I would be hopeful that it could be in situ by no later than about 5 years from the present date.

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