Budget Paper No5 Northern Territory Economy 1998/99
Tabled Paper 382
Tabled papers for 8th Assembly 1997 - 2001; Tabled papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Michael Reed
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
improvements in the network will enable it to offer further services, such as judicial hearings, interviews and other commercial services on a more regular basis. Some remote areas in the Territory are also connected by the Tanami Network which is an Aboriginal owned and managed company that offers video-conferencing facilities. Services are available at six sites, with the main users being people studying by correspondence and family members of inmates of the Alice Springs and Darwin Correctional Centres. A network similar to the Tanami Network has also been proposed for use across the Top End of the Territory. The deregulation of the telecommunications market has started to result in greater competition, with some reduction in costs and an expanded range of available services. The major competitor to Telstra, Optus, has invested significantly in telecommunications infrastructure throughout the Territory (mainly in mobile phone base stations) and now offers long distance, mobile and satellite services. A variety of services are also provided via satellite to rural and remote Australia. Both Optus MobileSat and Telstras Satcom-M provide voice, fax and data transmission to the whole of Australia including 200 kilometres out to sea. A second commercial free-to-air television license for Darwin has been awarded to Telecasters (Channel Seven). This is the fourth major broadcast television station available in Darwin, along with ABC, SBS and Channel 8. Other major centres of the Territory receive a combination of Imparja, Queensland Satellite Television (Channel Ten), SBS and ABC. Pay television (through Austar) is currently available in most Darwin and Alice Springs suburbs, with coverage expected to soon include all areas in Darwin and Palmerston. Darwin is also well serviced by radio stations, including five ABC stations, along with two commercial stations, SBS and a community station. There are two commercial radio stations in Alice Springs, and community radio and ABC services are available in most communities. In addition, there are several narrowcast services broadcasting TAB and tourist information. COMMUNICATION OUTLOOK There are several important government initiatives in the communications area, the most significant of which is the Regional Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund. The aim of the fund is the development of regional Australia through improved information and communication services, with a minimum of $16 million to be spent on communications infrastructure in the Territory over the next five years. Locally, the Territory Government has commenced instal lat ion of its own dedicated telecommunications network in the Darwin CBD to allow for the more efficient the transmission of data between agencies. Telstra have also been upgrading services to the Territory, and are expected to spend $66 million in 1998-99 to expand and update their mobile phone and communications infrastructure. One major consequence of deregulation is that other providers can offer local telephone calls, although there are no plans for this in the Territory as yet. The privatisation of Telstra has already commenced, with the remaining two thirds of the company likely to be floated in the next few years. Further competition from alternative providers is expected to drive prices lower. Increases in telecommunication bandwidth, particularly through the extension of optic fibre networks, will provide both 81 Transport and Communication
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