Small businesses don't see benefit in NBN: report

Almost two-thirds of small companies in NSW and Queensland rate the government's NBN performance as "very poor"

Forty per cent of small business owners believe the National Broadband Network (NBN) will not help their business, according to a Roy Morgan report.

The State of the Nation Report (No. 14) revealed just 30 per cent of owners expect a benefit from the high-speed broadband network, with remaining businesses unsure about what benefits the NBN will bring.

Small businesses in NSW and Queensland were the most critical of the NBN, with 61 per cent of companies in these states rating the government’s performance as ‘very poor’. Around 43 per cent of these small businesses believed there would not be any benefit from the NBN.

In Victoria and Tasmania, 33 per cent of small businesses expect a benefit from the NBN and just 24 per cent of small businesses in South Australia and Western Australia expect a benefit, with the vast majority of premises in WA and SA still without NBN connections.

Mike Quigley, chief executive at NBN Co, recently told a Senate Estimates hearing that NBN Co has not yet connected any premises to the NBN in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and only small number in South Australia, despite construction starting in some areas 19 months ago.

Small businesses in capital cities are more likely to be positive about the impacts of the NBN, according to the report, with agriculture, mining and transport industry businesses the least likely to expect a benefit.

“Most Australian small businesses currently rate the Federal Government’s performance in fostering growth as very poor. The proportion in favour of the government’s performance has been quite low since the 2010 federal election,” Michele Levine, Roy Morgan research, said in a statement.

The report comes amid claims the NBN will bring economic and social benefits, particularly for residents and businesses in regional and rural areas.

Mark Kelleher, who was previously on the board of NBN Tasmania and is now secretary of the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts in Tasmania, believes there are several opportunities opening up for businesses in Tasmania, with the state the first to be fully connected to the NBN by the end of 2015.

However, David Bartlett, former Tasmanian premier, has said businesses aren’t ready for the opportunities the NBN will bring.

NBN Co is targeting 286,000 premises passed by June this year.

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