[LINK] NBN low income scheme

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Tue Oct 25 18:52:40 AEDT 2011

Discounts needed for low income earners to access NBN: ACCAN

Advocacy group argues that not every Australian will be able to afford 
fibre broadband access

Hamish Barwick (Computerworld)25 October, 2011 15:20

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has 
proposed a broadband low income measures scheme, including discount 
wholesale prices, to enable Australians earning $26,000 a year or less to 
access to the National Broadband Network (NBN). 

Speaking before a parliamentary joint committee on the NBN in Sydney, 
ACCAN chief executive, Teresa Corbin, said that under the scheme, ACCAN 
would like to see NBN Co providing discount wholesale prices for retail 
service providers such as Infoexchange, which could than provide cheap 
internet services for low income consumers. 

“That would mean people with a healthcare card should be able to access 
these services if they chose to,” she said. “This is becoming important 
because we have entered an age where internet access is important in 
daily life.” 

Another proposal is setting up more public internet kiosks across 
Australia in addition to current services provided by libraries and high 

“At present, a lot of these public access programs are state based but 
there needs to be a national approach taken to this by the government and 
NBN Co,” she said.

“Another proposal would be to turn every public telephone box into a Wi-
Fi access spot which they currently do in Hong Kong as a free service.” 

The genesis of ACCAN’s broadband low income measures proposal was 
research into the digital divide conducted by the Australian 
Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) earlier this year. 

It found that 2.6 million Australians did not have access to the internet 
via mobile or a fixed line service and that this was unlikely to change 
even after the NBN was rolled out due to broadband costs.

“When that study was broken down, 62 per cent of the 2.6 million had 
incomes of less than $25,000 while 53 per cent were aged 55 years or more 
and a majority of the respondents lived in non-capital city areas,” 
Corbin said. 

The ACMA study also found that one third of the respondents still used 
the internet via a library or a school while 42 per cent indicated that 
they used internet services outside the home because cost was a factor 
and home connections were too expensive. “We are very concerned there 
will still be a digital divide going forward because in some areas the 
only service might be an expensive satellite or wireless service,” she 

“Whilst we think that overall the NBN will be significant leveller we are 
concerned that people who can’t access the internet now, won’t be able to 
even when the NBN rolls out.”


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