The Wheatbelt needs to go wireless, minister told

Kellie BalaamNarrogin Observer
Rick Wilson, Paul Fletcher and Crisp Wireless chief executive Leigh Ballard.
Camera IconRick Wilson, Paul Fletcher and Crisp Wireless chief executive Leigh Ballard. Credit: Kellie Balaam

Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher visited Narrogin last Friday to discuss wireless networks in rural areas.

Mr Fletcher met O’Connor MP Rick Wilson and Crisp Wireless chief executive Leigh Ballard to talk about the communication needs of regional areas.

Crisp Wireless is a wireless internet service provider that operates in regional WA and is looking to extend its network to Narrogin.

Discussions involved some of the ways networks could deliver better connectivity to farms as well as for residential uses so farmers could use technology to be productive and efficient.

Mr Fletcher said Australians wanted more internet coverage and capacity.

“There’s residential uses of the internet such as watching Netflix or other video services,” he said.

“Connectivity is important for business. Australia has a very efficient agricultural sector and one of the reasons for that is because Australian farmers are investing in technology.

“Rick has been a very strong champion for his electorate when it comes to the communications needs of O’Connor. Our focus is on the Government getting better communication services to regional Australia.”

The Federal Government has committed to a program that will look at spending more than $50 million on regional connectivity.

Mr Fletcher said Crisp Wireless could apply for funding under the program.

Mr Wilson said cost-effective connectivity across the Wheatbelt was a priority.

“The next step is getting that wireless signal from the homestead on farming properties across the farming landscape so some of the modern machines can use their built-in technology to the full potential,” he said.

The National Broadband Network provides internet coverage across metro and rural areas and Mr Fletcher said it had transformed internet availability in the regions.

“However, there are people who are prepared to pay more so they can continue business opportunities and Crisp is meeting that need and delivering those services.”

Mr Fletcher said Mr Wilson has been a hard working and active local MP.

“Rick has taken a strong interest in communications over his time in Parliament because he knows how important it is for his constituents to have the best connectivity,” he said.

“There’s more to do and Rick is right on the fore front of arguing for the changes that are needed.”

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