Terms of Reference for the 2024 Regional Telecommunications Review

  1. The Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee must conduct a review of the adequacy of telecommunications services in regional, rural, and remote parts of Australia.
  2. In determining the adequacy of those services, the Committee must have regard to whether people in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia have equitable access to telecommunications services that are significant to people in those parts of Australia, and currently available in one or more parts of urban Australia.
  3. In conducting the review, the Committee must make provision for public consultation and consultation with people in regional, rural and remote parts of Australia.
  4. In conducting the Review, the Committee is to have regard to any policies of the Australian Government notified to it by the Minister for Communications, and such other matters as the Committee considers relevant. The Minister requests that you have regard to the following:
    1. awareness and the impact of the Government’s $1.1 billion investment in improving regional communications, including the $656 million Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia; extent to which this investment is addressing identified needs; and flexibility to address emerging needs and challenges;
    2. the implications of, and opportunities presented by, changing and emerging technologies and broader market developments for regional communications policy settings and the design and delivery of regional communications programs;
    3. attitudes of regional households, communities and businesses to; community awareness of; access to supporting technologies to support take-up of; and public sentiment on changing and emerging technologies;
    4. needs in First Nations communities, and the extent to which those needs are being met, taking into account initiatives across the Government;
    5. potential to fast track some USO modernisation outcomes, particularly within NBN Co’s fixed wireless network footprint, which would build momentum for broader change; and
    6. the suitability of regional communications during emergencies and natural disasters, including reliability, resilience, speed and coverage.
  5. Taking into account Terms of Reference Section 4, the Committee is to consider and provide advice on:
    1. telecommunications needs in regional Australia, gaps in services, and barriers to addressing needs, gaps and improvements in telecommunications outcomes;
    2. changes or adjustments needed to existing Government policies and design and delivery of programs to ensure they continue to be effective; remain fit for purpose; are maximising the social and economic potential of regional Australia and of existing and emerging technologies; and deliver improved telecommunications outcomes;
    3. policy settings that might be needed to support more rapid rollout of, and investment in, new and emerging telecommunications technologies in regional, rural and remote Australia, or to address emerging issues;
    4. constraints and capacity of the telecommunications providers to deliver investment and improved services to meet the needs of regional Australia; and
    5. the need for targeted place-based solutions, which may differ by region and remoteness.
  6. The report may set out recommendations to the Australian Government.
  7. In formulating a recommendation that the Australian Government should take a particular action, the Committee must assess the costs and benefits of that action.
  8. The Committee must prepare a report of the review by 31 December 2024 or earlier and present it to the Minister for Communications.