The Federal Government has tabled a report into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN), highlighting the need for initiatives to drive demand for services delivered by the high speed network.
The report, issued by the a House of Representatives committee on infrastructure and communications, examined the potential impact of the NBN on government service delivery, economic and regional development and social and community activity.
According to the committee, the inquiry found that while the network will enable infrastructure for a range of social and economic benefits in a range of industry verticals, in order to maximise the NBN more is required on the “demand” side.
“Related to this, inquiry participants told the Committee that an overarching strategy is needed to outline the government’s goals for how the NBN will be used and how those goals can be delivered through demand side interventions,” the report reads.
The committee also welcomed the National Digital Economy Strategy, which was announced by communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, in May, to improve access to health and education services for all Australians.
The committee notes it “goes a long way to addressing concerns raised during the inquiry” on government direction and recommended the continued implementation of the strategy across government with regular reporting on goals reached by departments.
The inquiry also found that despite much focus on the cost of construction and the corporate plan, there is also a need to evaluate the practical impact of the network on the economy and communities.
The committee recommended the government continue to invest in broadband-enabled technologies for its own services both to improve efficiency and promote NBN uptake.
Additionally, the government should provide support for organisations in developing broadband applications and develop targeted programs for those disadvantaged by the digital divide to improve awareness.
Global ICT provider Huawei has backed the report, labelling it “a positive outcome for digital inclusion”.
“The report makes it clear that the debate must move beyond ‘pits and pipes’, and onto what Australia will do with high-speed broadband — building not just a network, but a networked society,” Huawei Australia corporate and public affairs director, Jeremy Mitchell, said in a statement.
“High-speed broadband will re-shape Government services, healthcare, education, infrastructure, the environment, and even communities themselves.”
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