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Let’s ensure all Australians can work, learn and stay healthy during COVID-19

Like few times in our country’s history, people are desperate to work.

The threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic is making many Australians feel very insecure about the future of their jobs. Sadly, for many, they are already unemployed.

For those lucky enough to be able to work from home, they can stay employed, albeit away from direct face-to-face contact with work colleagues, customers and suppliers.

Schools are also moving to online learning, with students joining classmates via video links.

But working and learning from home brings other challenges – particularly for people living outside metropolitan and major regional centres.

More than ever, high-speed internet is crucial to a person’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in their job, at school or university.

And it is not only download and upload speeds. How much data is available on their home or business internet plan, is also critical. Especially as many of us are now interfacing with work colleagues and others via videoconferencing platforms like Microsoft Teams; Google Meet or Zoom.

Digital connectivity has been a major issue for people living in regional, rural and remote Australia for many years now. COVID-19 has brought that into stark relief.

People’s ability to access online telehealth consultations is more important than ever before.

Just this month, as part of the COVID-19 National Health Plan, the Federal Government announced that temporary Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) item numbers will allow doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to deliver services via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed.

This is a sensible initiative, which has cross-party support. But if an individual has a slow internet connection or their plan restricts video streaming data, access to those services will be limited or unattainable. Further, some people have routers that are old and incapable of connecting several devices simultaneously, which reduces performance.

IPSTAR Broadband has the ability to prioritise certain traffic profiles to ensure that our customers get the best experience. We are ensuring that key applications for working or schooling from home or accessing telehealth are not compromised.

We are increasing our capacity by 40 per cent to cater for extra demand and therefore there is less congestion on the network. We will continue to monitor this to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience for our customers. We are prioritising education traffic during the critical hours of 9am to 3pm such as Google Classroom and other education applications and we are taking feedback from our customers to understand how we can best service them.

At IPSTAR Broadband we are also educating regional and rural customers on how to best use and maximise their available data their internet when working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are ensuring they have the right plan for the right situation.

IPSTAR Broadband has published several e-books and blog posts to ensure customers understand the opportunities and limitations of their internet plans so they can stay connected for work and play. You can view these here. The e-books and blogs cover topics like getting optimal internet performance while working from home and saving data when streaming videos and using social media.

People in metropolitan areas can make a smooth transition from working in the office to working from home as they will most likely have unlimited internet plans with high download speeds.

It is more difficult for people in regional and rural locations to make this transition as they often have satellite internet plans with a limited monthly data allowance.

We want to help our customers understand how to best use their internet so they can dial into work video calls and send emails during the day, while also being able to watch a movie with the family at night.

Self-isolation and social distancing are crucial to keeping Australians safe, but we are now more disconnected than ever.

A reliable internet connection will help keep Australians living in regional and rural areas in work and school, while being able to access the best healthcare and talk with loved ones.

It is essential that that access is available countrywide.