EDITOR'S LETTER OCTOBER 2015
Kirsty McKenzie's letter from the October 2015 issue of Australian Country magazine.
As this issue goes to press a bunch of stories about telecommunications, or lack thereof, in the bush were swirling around the office. Somehow it seems that people in remote and regional Australia, the folk who need fast, affordable and reliable telecommunications the most, are the ones who get, at best, intermittent mobile service, at worst none at all, not to mention the slowest and most expensive internet connection. A group of doctors in central-western Queensland was making headlines because the paucity of the internet connection means they are unable to complete their rural GP training. While regional town residents are waiting on the National Broadband Network’s (NBN) fibre-to-the-node, fixed wireless rollout for improvement in their internet, which might not be until 2020, the best the doctors can hope for in the interim is special access to the satellite service.
Meanwhile, those on remote farms and communities who rely on the satellite for their internet delivery report regular dropouts, slow connections that make video conferencing impossible and download quota limitations, which mean the notion of downloading a movie, for example, is currently pretty much a fantasy. It also means that although the technology exists for state-of-the art distance education, and communications for banking, conferencing and business and social communications, the infrastructure is simply not there to deliver it. The launch of Sky Muster, the first of two new satellites, in October will change things dramatically during the next year. A spokesperson for the NBN explained that the peak speed of the interim satellite is about six megabit-per-second (Mbps), while the new satellite will deliver 25Mbps download, a vast improvement for all concerned, about 100-fold faster than many regional people currently experience on dial-up. Bring it on, I’m sure is the chorus in the bush.
We’ve been to a few out-of-the-way places ourselves this issue. Photojournalist Don Fuchs found himself in the most amazing accommodation that also serves as a wildlife sanctuary on the Atherton Tablelands, while in South Australia we revisited the Rowe family at Burra, this time at the historic Mackerode homestead. Our food files profiles Kiwi foodie Nadia Lim and her My Food Bag concept, the recipe feature focuses on bananas and we set the scene for a Mexican fiesta. Our fashion story looks to summer with a waterside theme and we visit Marina Matic at her beachhouse on the NSW south coast. We hope you enjoy this issue and look forward to seeing you again in the next, which goes on sale December 10.