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Analogue Mobile phones to stay in Regional Australia

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Media Statement - SI lb/98 Page 1 of 2

Other Media Statements [Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government] [Minister for Transport and Regional Development]

[Michael Ronaldson, Parliamentary Secretary] [Departmental!

M e d i a

R e l e a s eTHE HON ALEX S( Minister for Regional Development, Territories and I 5 February 1998 SI lb/98


The Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, Alex Somlyay said the Howard government has over turned the Labor Party decision made in 1992 that had appeared to lock future governments into the decision to close down the analogue AMPS network by 1 January 2000.

"Labor had taken the short sighted view that it would close down the analogue mobiles without making provision for rural areas which only had effective AMPS coverage and little or no digital GSM coverage.

"The analogue service will be retained after 1 January 2000 in regional areas where the Australian Communications Authority finds there would be no reasonably equivalent coverage if the AMPS service was withdrawn. The carriers will be asked to agree to continue the analogue service in these cases.

"This was the communications 'black hole' Labor was prepared to condone in rural and regional Australia. Today there is mobile coverage o f over 94% of the population however there is coverage of less than 10% o f the land mass," Mr Somlyay said.

He said the decision announced by his colleague the Minister for Communications, Senator Alston is aimed at ensuring that the phase out o f analogue technology over time does not cause existing mobile phone users in regional and rural communities to lose out.

"Labor passed us a poison chalice on this issue and the Coalition has tipped it out and come up with an outcome in the best interests o f regional areas.

"The ability o f the Howard government to listen and react to reasonable, sensible requests will be well appreciated by voters in regional electorates," said Mr Somlyay.

He said that over the next few years the introduction o f new technology including low orbiting lb_98.htm 04/06/1998

Media Statement - SI 1 b/98 Page 2 o f 2

satellites is expected to deliver affordable mobile phone coverage throughout Australia.

"The Government will implement a binding analogue phase out plan including the setting o f cut off dates for signing up new analogue customers. This is designed to ensure that analogue customers enjoy a smooth transition to the alternative services as they become available in regional areas," said Mr Somlyay.

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Further information: Graeme Hallett (Minister's Advisor) 02-6277 7060

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