Northern Territorians are struggling to pay for internet access and mobile phone plans necessary for accessing essential online services, researchers say.
Low-income households and people from remote areas are facing financial hardship as more and more services move to the web, the Northern Territory Council of Social Service says.
“Many lower-income Territorians rely solely on mobile phones for their internet access which is generally associated with less value for money,” social researcher Jonathan Pilbrow said.
“It’s leading to people on the lowest incomes in the country paying the highest rates for telecommunications.”
It’s also leading to higher rates of digital exclusion, with the NT facing the deepest digital divide in the country.
Australia’s poorest households – those in the bottom 10 per cent of income levels – are spending 8.3 per cent of their disposable income on telecommunications.
That’s more than double the national household average of 3.3 per cent.
Internet speed is also a problem, with many mobile towers in remote Aboriginal communities only offering 3G, which gives poor speeds and is prone to congestion.
About 25,000 Territorians or 10 per cent of the population remain without internet or mobile access, excluding satellite services.
The findings were published in NTCOSS’s 30th Cost of Living Report, released on Tuesday.