Feds call for broadband strategy

A federal government enquiry into broadband Internet connections has called for a national strategy to regulate Australia's use of the technology.

The 66-page report -- Australia's Broadband Connectivity -- makes 19 recommendations on how broadband can be leveraged to improve the delivery of services such as health and education in Australia.

They include the adoption of a national broadband strategy by the federal government in co-operation with all industry stakeholders, and identifying cost, rather than availability, as the major barrier to use by those connected to the Internet.

Citing estimates from Accenture, the report said broadband could boost local economic activity by between $12 and $30 million a year and Australia's global competitiveness if broadband was adopted widely.

Federal Minister for Communications and IT, Senator Richard Alston, said the government recognised the importance of its own role in promoting broadband use.

"The government has already taken steps and provided funding to guide broadband development in Australia," he said.

"These include acting as a regulator to promote full and open competition and as a catalyst to activity in the health, education and research fields."

Specifically, the government has set up the Australian Research and Education Network, allocating $42.5 million for a network to meet the domestic bandwidth needs of higher-end research in universities, the Department of Communications and IT said in a statement.

The government has also established a $36 million Advanced Networks Program to develop, test and demonstrate advanced networks to deliver long term benefits to the economy.

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