Telecommunications byte regional areas

The South Australian Council of Social Service (SACOSS) has released its latest ‘Cost of Living’ update that shows South Australians in regional areas are not getting the full benefits of the digital revolution.

While expenditure on telecommunications in regional areas is less than Adelaide, regional consumers are getting around 30 per cent less value for money.

The SACOSS report, which is based on the official ABS Household Expenditure Survey data, as well as data from the Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII), shows while telecommunications prices have been decreasing, telecommunications expenditure has increased with higher demand as government, businesses and culture all increasingly move online.

The SACOSS report also found the city/country imbalance in SA is worse than the national average.

Telecommunications expenditure in regional SA households is 76 per cent of the average expenditure in Adelaide, compared with a national regional/capital average of 84 per cent.

But, in what is possibly not surprising news, regional South Australians get about 30 per cent less data for every dollar of telecommunications expenditure than those in Adelaide. Plus 22.3 per cent of regional household are not even accessing the internet at home (including by mobile phone), by comparison with 15.5% in Adelaide!

“Access to affordable telecommunications is essential in a digital age and it is especially important in regional areas,” SACOSS CEO, Ross Womerlsey said. 

“Digital technology offers the potential to overcome some of the disadvantages of distance – closer access to markets, information, government services and online commerce – as well as just making it easier to connect with friends and community who may be many kilometres away.”

In the 2018 State Election, SACOSS is calling on all parties to commit to policies on telecommunications affordability and digital inclusion, including commitment to a statewide digital inclusion plan, and provision of free wifi for digitally disadvantaged areas.

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