Farmer Stuart Gall on internet access for country people

Left behind: Farmer Stuart Gall is unimpressed by his Telstra service, and feels the Sky Muster satellite is unlikely to be any better.

Left behind: Farmer Stuart Gall is unimpressed by his Telstra service, and feels the Sky Muster satellite is unlikely to be any better.

As the National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out ramps up in Moree, farmer Stuart Gall believes out-of-town residents are getting the short end of the stick. 

“I think the NBN will be good, but my biggest concern is that it’ll be updated by the time I get it,” he said.

“To those that are outside the loop, it is a massive cost. And I don’t think the politicians have got the slightest idea how much money we pay.”

Living 20 kilometres south of town, Mr Gall shares 60 gigabytes of internet data with his family, his brother’s family and his mother. Once the families pass the threshold, they pay $10 for every extra gigabyte. Staying under 60 gigabytes while running a business and sharing among three households is next to impossible, Mr Gall said.

“This is the best package we could get. I’ve got a very old exchange out the front,” he said of his Telstra service.

“I looked at Sky Muster (the NBN satellite for remote areas) and it’s not a hell of a lot better.”

Mr Gall said the service costs the family around $1000 a month, and was often unreliable. He said the initial set up cost over $9000 in hardware.

“We’ve got blackspots everywhere and just pay massive amounts for data. It’s to the point where the kids can’t even do homework,” he said.

“We use it for everything. All of our banking, all of our research is done on it. All my paddock records and rainfall records, chemical records are all done on a tablet that we take around with us in the paddock.” Mr Gall said this was difficult as he couldn’t use apps that require a constant internet connection.

Mr Gall felt despite the economic benefits of reliable internet for farmers, they were not being prioritised in the rollout.

“When it comes to internet data and telecommunications, it’s a real case of the haves and the have nots, and I really think the politicians do not have a clue how much and how bad the service is,” he said.

Moree NBN construction begins in October. NBN spokesperson Marcela Balart said most locals should be able to connect between February– April 2018. 

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