A new report published this week by Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers shows that internet speed, high costs and low reliability are holding back key regional industries. The 45-page report, Making Connections: considering the impact of high speed broadband in the Northern Rivers, summarises the findings of a survey of almost 300 Northern Rivers businesses in the creative industries, health and aged care, education and finance sectors about their current internet use and their hopes for the future.
Launching the report at the Kyogle Bowling Club, RDA-NR chairman Dr Ian Tiley said: ‘We surveyed the sectors that are already high-end internet users and those that are most likely to be early adopters of the NBN. We will use this information to plan ahead, for if we think only about the cables and wires, we won’t be ready to capitalise and capture the economic and social benefits that high-speed broadband can offer our region.’
The creative industries are more optimistic than those in the other sectors that high-speed broadband will improve their productivity (78 per cent), revenue (52 per cent) and profitability (55 per cent). Those in education are the most positive that high-speed broadband will enable them to increase their product and business differentiation (48 per cent) with increased cost control (34 per cent) an added bonus.
The report highlights that while nearly three-quarters of all businesses surveyed are using ADSL or ADSL2+, one in two (49.8 per cent) have experienced internet problems in the last year, ranging from low speeds (76 per cent), through connection drop outs (73 per cent) to insufficient download/upload bandwidth (48 per cent).
Nearly all those surveyed use the internet for correspondence by email (99 per cent), research and information gathering (99 per cent) and banking (85 per cent). While 94 per cent placed orders via the internet, only 62 per cent received orders from their customers online.
Notwithstanding some reservations about pricing and availability of new services, the majority of those surveyed are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the NBN. Comments like I’m so over paying top dollar for slow internet, Can’t wait to get it, and Hurry up! were common from the survey’s respondents.