It is a sad fact that many wireless broadband services in remote areas in Australia lag behind the acceptable standards expected of Internet service in metropolitan areas. Some rural zones have completely no access to the Internet. Email, VoIP calls and even landline calls are impossible in some small towns. In an effort to provide good broadband access to all Australian communities, the Australian government has launched a satellite broadband subsidy program that will benefit those who stay, live, or do business in localities underserved by telecommunication companies and DSL cable and mobile Internet service providers. The subsidy program is also a big boost to Australia”s satellite operators, as it helps them expand their market. This will also make satellite communication a more popular alternative to cable and traditional mobile Internet technologies.
The subsidy limit is $2,500 which would be valid throughout a period of 3 years. There are eligibility requirements to be met by beneficiaries. Eligible beneficiaries can be consumers and institutional users like small and medium companies. Even non-governmental organizations can apply. Qualified organizations are those that employ at least 20 people. Certain local councils can also receive the subsidy. Government councils are also welcome to apply for broadband subsidy. Interested applicants can just inquire through the Australian Broadband Guarantee helpline number to know all the eligibility requirements.
There are also eligibility requirements for satellite communications companies and ISPs. They ust be registered first and satisfy the minimum level of coverage, quality standards, among others. If qualified, satellite Internet carriers and ISPs will get the subsidized payment of customers directly from the government.
Rural zones under the financial aid program have corresponding list of eligible ISPs and satellite carriers. Registered ISPs must be able to commit themselves to at least three years of service per contract terms. The monthly subscription rate throughout this period should be fixed, and excess data charges should be limited to five cents per megabyte. ISPs must present the full terms and conditions of the contract to the beneficiaries of the subsidy.
The equipment to be used can be covered by the subsidy. The equipment can be bought by the user or bundled with the service. Upon the end of the 3-year contract, Internet Service Providers can choose not to renew the plan, unless there is another subsidy program in place applicable to the customers. To qualify for the subsidy, customers must be living or staying in an area with no access to terrestrial Internet networks. But people who are temporary residents in such an area can still get qualified under certain conditions. Economic development zones, air space, and external territories are within the coverage of the subsidy. Moreover, non-profit organizations like NGOs, state schools and volunteer emergency service agencies can apply for the subsidy.