3G shutdown - Don’t disconnect the bush

19th Mar 2024

The NSW Farmers Association has called for the Federal Government to take urgent action to ensure phone companies don’t leave thousands of farmers without mobile coverage as the 3G shutdown looms.
At present, large parts of NSW have limited or no mobile phone reception, and many regions rely on 3G networks to communicate, especially during emergency situations. 
NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee Chair Deb Charlton said the shutdown of Telstra’s 3G service on 30 June – as well as Optus’ 3G closure in September – would spell disaster for many farmers who often work alone and a long way from help.
“As providers push ahead with this 3G network shutdown, there’s no doubt there will be farmers who run into trouble or have an accident, and will be unable to call for help,” Mrs Charlton said. 
“Even with the 3G network in place, there are hundreds of horror stories of accidents occurring on farms or on isolated country roads, where people have not had the mobile coverage they need to contact emergency services and get lifesaving help.
“We have absolutely no confidence that 4G coverage will be available when the 3G network is switched off, and we will only see more of these tragic situations as a result.”
Mrs Charlton urged the Federal Government to urgently work with telecommunications providers to resolve the connectivity challenges faced by farmers and rural communities, and set out a clear plan to secure reliable connectivity moving forward.
“Unless there is a real and concerted focus on local infrastructure upgrades and broader regional telecommunications networks, large tracts of the state with poor mobile coverage will see connectivity get even worse,” Mrs Charlton said.
“The farmers who grow the nation’s food and fibre should not be forced into using expensive satellite phones or have to resort back to pre-war radio connections as their only link to the outside world.
“Connectivity is a critical tool, and in many cases, it’s been the difference between life and death when an accident has occurred in these rural communities.”