More than $3 billion and 30,000 jobs are lost in regional areas each year due to insufficient broadband infrastructure, according to Minister for Broadband, Stephen Conroy.
In an address to the Regional Broadband Forum in Tamworth, Conroy said that the National Broadband Network would “transform our regions”, by providing cost-effective broadband nationwide, including in regional and rural areas.
“The Government is moving boldly to ensure Australia has the infrastructure it needs to grow and prosper into the 21st century,” he said.
“This, of course includes our regional centres, cities and towns across the country.”
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Josh Giumelli, engineering manager for farmer support-service body, the Kondinin Group, said rural sectors could see real growth if current barriers to effective IT services were removed.
“We do see a real disadvantage caused by poor internet in rural areas,” he said.
“From my point of view, I live on a farm but I work remotely for Kondinin Group, which has a head office in Perth. I wanted to get out of the city and move back to the farm, so I do a lot of work electronically. It’s certainly difficult, because I have a lot of trouble trying to shift data back and forth from the head office.
“That’s just my situation, but that’s replicated many times and I think the opportunity for people to work remotely and have jobs where they’re not needing to travel would certainly expand if we had that infrastructure, whether it’s hard wired broadband fibre or wireless. Currently, in rural areas Telstra’s Next G is all we’ve got, but it's expensive and coverage is not always where it needs to be. There’s satellite, but that’s not always right either.”
While 90 per cent of the nation is set to receive fibe optic cable direct to properties, the remaining 10 per cent (mostly rural and remote areas), will receive a next generation wireless service.