Eurobodalla and Southern Phone $4.8M telecommunications deal

An agreement for the transfer of $4.8 million in Commonwealth Government grant funds from the Eurobodalla Shire Council to the Southern Phone Company was signed on 25 September. The community owned regional telecommunications company has been funded by the Commonwealth Networking the Nation program to reduce the cost of long distance phone calls and develop a broadband data network in the south east of NSW.

Development of the project over the last five years has been led by Eurobodalla Shire Council, which has now been joined by 23 other Councils in the region as shareholders in the company. All profits are returned to the regional community through their Councils. Council secured the Federal grant for the project which has been passed to the Southern Phone Company to implement the project objectives.

Eurobodalla Shire Mayor, Councillor Pam Green, said Council has a real sense of achievement in getting the project to this stage.

“It has the potential to be a major stimulus to economic and social development by reducing the high long distance phone charges borne by country people and allowing the introduction of improved education, health care and business opportunities through more affordable broadband access,” she said.

Southern Phone Chairman Bill Hilzinger said the work done by Eurobodalla Council, supported by Shoalhaven City Council and other regional Local Governments, will have a huge impact on the regional community.

“Southern Phone will be introducing a new level of competition to the regional telecommunications market, cutting the price of many long distance calls by about half,” he said. “There will be new jobs created in the region and the first jobs will be in a call centre being established in the small coastal town of Moruya, which has a very high rate of unemployment at present.”

He also presented Eurobodalla Shire Council with the first share certificate for the new company. Councils in the region have been offered two shares at $1 each that will allow them to share in the profits of the company and return them to the community through works and services for local benefit. The company expects to begin offering services before Christmas.

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