The Australian Industry Group has challenged the Victorian ICT minister and IT industry to properly explain the NBN to people and businesses who “don't know what they don't know”.
The comments were made yesterday in front of ICT minster, John Lenders, who outlined a number of ambitious targets to establish Victoria as the country's premier NBN state, including a goal of signing one million NBN residential and business customers by 2015.
The goals are part of the state's $110 million, six-point plan to boost the state's ICT credentials, of which the NBN was a key point in a response to the announcement by the head of the Victorian branch of the Australian Industry Group, Tim Piper.
Piper welcomed the government's investment promises but said the benefits of the NBN were not fully understood by people and businesses outside the ICT sector.
“For industry and the take-up of NBN and whatever NBN can add, really industry and people don't know what they don't know, that's really the problem,” Piper said.
“I've heard ICT people suggest the NBN will be a necessary utility along with electricity, water and gas. It could be but let's not make it twenty years from now that it is, let's make it two years from now people are considering that.”
The government and industry need to demonstrate tangible benefits of the NBN to encourage take-up, he said.
“Companies need to be able to see, touch, feel what can be done, they have to be led and shown how ICT can help.
“It's not just their Blackberry that's ICT, it's understanding the tangible commercial benefits of NBN and what it offers, and to get companies on the front foot, they need to have a thorough understanding of what those are.
“If communication about the NBN and through the NBN is to be a staple, we have to educate industry and the population, we have to encourage early and constant take up of ICT but we can't expect it to happen by osmosis.”
The comments highlight the challenge before Lenders, who has set a number of ambitious targets to achieve the goal to “establish Victoria as the most extensive and productive broadband economy in Australia”.
In the action plan, the first two key performance indicators are “Victoria has the deepest NBN fibre rollout of any state”, and “more than one million Victorian households and businesses taking a broadband service over the NBN by 2015”.
The government will also spend $14 million on projects to develop applications to leverage high-speed broadband, which includes improving regional services and lifestyles.
The plan contains a lot of information about the benefits of broadband but is relatively scant on detail about how the Victorian government plans to achieve its lofty goals.
The key action points are to lobby the federal government to ensure the state has the “earliest and most extensive possible deployment of the NBN”, and to also “extend the minimum rollout obligations in Victoria”.
“The Australian Government's commitment for the NBN fibre network to reach 93 per cent of the population is expected to be determined on a commercial basis,” the report said.
“The Victorian Government believes that Victoria can achieve significantly better broadband coverage by identifying commercial factors that make greater deployment feasible.
“It will publish expert studies, such as Telecommunications Spend and Demand in Victoria series, to support its advocacy.”