Rural internet speeds to leap ahead

Deathly slow internet speeds have long been the bane of country life.

But Australians living in rural and regional areas will soon be uploading and downloading at faster speeds than most who live in the cities.

The federal government announced on Wednesday that it would upgrade satellite and wireless services for the 7 per cent of the nation's population who live in regional and remote areas that will not get access to the national broadband network's highest-speed "fibre to the home".

Communications and Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy said the upgrade would double the speeds of the NBN's fixed wireless and satellite internet.

"This is a quantum leap for services available to regional Australia," Senator Conroy said.

After the upgrade, which is expected to be available by mid-2013 for wireless and from 2015 for the satellite services, rural and regional Australians will get faster internet than most Australians have today, he said.

The cost of the upgrade has already been factored into the NBN's corporate plan, according to a spokesman for Senator Conroy.

At speeds of 25 megabits per second download and 5 megabits per second upload, it will still be a far cry from the rates possible on the super-fast fibre-to-the-home technology, which can be upgraded to speeds of one gigabit per second, but it is significantly faster than what is currently available in regional Australia and quicker than the ADSL internet connections used by most who live in cities.

"For too long, people living in regional and rural Australia have had to put up with slow, unreliable internet services, if they could get a connection at all," Senator Conroy said.

The new, faster satellite and wireless will cost about $40 a month, the same as the equivalent speeds in fibre, he said.

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