We can't escape it: the laws of physics and economics conspire to ensure it is always much cheaper to provide mobile telephony in cities than the bush. When the locals of Prairie and surrounds (The Age, 22/7) complain about a lack of coverage 30km out of their town, have they considered satellite phones? No doubt, at a couple of dollars per minute it appears more expensive than CDMA. But I imagine the true cost of providing a CDMA service to just a scattering of occasional users exceeds the satellite phone charges. It's just that the CDMA costs are hidden through direct and indirect subsidies. "They should fix it" is, I suppose, code for "Everyone else should pay for it". Still, you can't blame them for trying it on.
The appointment of a fellow cockie as chairman of Telstra should not result in uneconomic and politically-motivated decision-making regarding rural stakeholders. We already have a taxpayer-funded process that is the most efficient and transparent way to subsidise these services in the bush. Let's not have any priveleges to the detriment of the wider public.