Internet Access Not for All - Report
1 October 2013 at 10:51 am
New research shows low-income earners in Australia are deprived of vital communications services such as basic internet access.
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) says the survey findings show that new ideas are needed on improving Australian households’ access to communications services.
The Anglicare Victoria research, funded by ACCAN, found almost half of those on low incomes can’t afford home internet and 56.1 per cent don’t access internet on their mobile.
“Too many low income earners are deprived of essential communications services and while there will be some who choose not to be connected, it is clear from the data that many of the lowest-income Australians are not connected because they can’t afford it,” ACCAN CEO Teresa Corbin said.
“It is time for a serious conversation about whether new low-income measures are required that go beyond existing measures which only help people get a fixed phone line.
“We know that these days to be on an equal footing means access to both a mobile and the internet.”
ACCAN says it will use this latest research to engage with industry and policy makers and start a discussion about options to address the problems this and other research is revealing.
Report author Dr Sarah Wise said: “Lack of access to the internet was related to deprivation of other basic items such as medical treatment, social contact and appropriate housing. Digital exclusion is an indicator of deep social and economic inequality.”
A recent Ericsson study found that better internet access helps drive economic growth by improving learning and teleworking. An increase in internet speeds from 4Mbps to 8Mbps was found to increase monthly income by $US120 a month, while an increase from 0.5-4Mbps would yield a $US46 monthly income increase.
ACCAN says any discussion around this issue should consider whether retail service providers are being sufficiently encouraged to implement low-income measures.
Read today’s Opinion by Susan Wilson from Anglicare Victoria on Internet access is a human right in Guatemala, why not in Australia?