Govt offers satellite phone subsidy

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A federal government satellite phone subsidy scheme has been extended, in a move the government claims will benefit maritime and fishing industry workers.

The scheme has been extended until mid 2007, according to a statement from Minister for Communications, IT and the Arts, Daryl Williams. As well as now being open to maritime and aviation users, volunteer emergency service providers can also apply.

"Originally set up to assist terrestrial users, the expanded eligibility guidelines will now provide more reliable communications at sea, and give maritime users an extra safety mechanism," it stated.

There have been about 2,500 subsidies granted to applicants since the Satellite Phone Subsidy Scheme was started in August 2002.

The scheme's total funding, including its expansion, is $6.9 million, and is one of the government's responses to the Regional Telecommunications Inquiry (RTI).

"The Government's response to the RTI is being implemented as a matter of priority and includes allocating more than $180 million to the improvement of existing services and locking in service improvements into the future," it stated.

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