Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


    Government help to purchase satellite phones

    30/10/2000 2:02 PM

    The State Government has launched an innovative scheme to help break down communication barriers for people living and working in remote areas.

    Regional Development Minister Hendy Cowan said a $500,000 fund had been established to enable almost 1,000 people or organisations in remote areas to purchase a satellite mobile telephone at substantially reduced cost.

    Individual grants of $550 would be provided to offset the cost of each phone purchased by eligible applicants.

    Mr Cowan said 95 per cent of WA’s land mass was not covered by terrestrial mobile phone services, making satellite technology the only option for mobile phone service throughout most of the State.

    “Unfortunately, the satellite phones are expensive and this has continued to keep them out of reach of many people,” he said.

    “These grants will not only make the initial outlay more affordable, they will also increase the total use of satellite phone services which is expected to help drive down prices for all users.”

    Mr Cowan said the scheme was targeted at individuals, small businesses (fewer than 20 employees) and community organisations that did not have access to terrestrial mobile phone services. People living or working in the Kimberley, Pilbara, Gascoyne, Mid-West and Goldfields-Esperance regions, or in isolated areas of other regions, would be key beneficiaries.

    The Minister said even the cheaper models of satellite phones could sell for more than $1,400 and the grant would cut the cost of those phones significantly.

    “Ultimately, as the market grows, stimulated in part by this scheme, we would expect costs to fall for both the initial phone outlay and subsequent phone use,” he said.

    “By creating a wave of demand, it should be possible to speed up the cost reductions that would otherwise occur over a much longer timeframe.”

    Mr Cowan said new satellite technologies had the potential to change people’s lives in remote areas and the State Government was determined to overcome obstacles that hindered their full use.

    “Access to reliable and affordable mobile telephony has been identified by regional communities as a top priority, and the Government is keen to facilitate this wherever possible,” he said.

    Application forms and information on eligibility criteria for the Satellite Mobile Phone Scheme (SMPS) is available from the Department of Commerce and Trade at Freecall 1800 199 251 or e-mail: gatewaywa@commerce.wa.gov.au. Information can also be accessed from the department’s website at http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au

    Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222-9595