People who live in the major towns and cities along the Sunshine Coast have learned to take their phone and internet services for granted. The expectation is that speeds will be fast, and that the service will always be up and running. If there is any downtime, it’s usually not for very long. All of that is a luxury that people in rural parts of Australia are not afforded, as data cabling and phone cabling services are not as efficient or readily available as they are in heavier populated areas. It’s a problem that is forcing many residents in those areas to consider their options.
One of the biggest issues with the phone and internet services in those parts of the country is the speed and the data limits that are in place. Those people who have children need those services in order for their children to engage in online distance learning, but the limits and lack of availability are leaving them out in the cold. Even when they can get the service they need, usually via mobile or satellite broadband, the costs that kick in once the data limits are exceeded are crippling. It is not uncommon for families living in the bush to pay 3 or even 5X as much as someone living in the Sunshine Coast.
The providers of these services seem to be doing very little to help the cause of rural families, as many have switched their peak and off peak times, which makes distance learning a real problem. Families would usually get their kids to log in to the online lessons during off peak times, but the constant shuffling of times makes it impossible for many families to do that, which means having to bite the bullet and get the work done during the peak hours where costs and data usage are at their costliest.
The problems created by these internet issues is putting an unhealthy amount of stress on families living in rural areas. Many are now forced into sending their kids off to boarding school, which is not really an ideal situation for anyone. Many more are also giving serious thought to giving up on the rural life that they have grown to love, and that is something that is tearing many of these families apart.
All that these families are asking is clarification on the rules and regulations laid out by the government and the data cabling providers. They feel that it would be much easier to create a plan of action that their family could work with if they were in full possession of all the facts. A Facebook page has been created where families in rural areas can go to share their stories and get the information they need. Social media has been incredibly effective in getting a number of major issues dealt with, so hopefully it will do the same for all of these rural families.