Broadband roll-out

The Northern Rivers has put its hand up to be in the early running for the national broadband network (NBN).

Last Friday Page MP Janelle Saffin hit the button on a submission to federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy and government relations and external affairs chief Mike Kaiser.

Southern Cross University Professor of Information Technology and Information Systems, Professor Peter Croll, said the $43 billion program would provide internet connection 10-20 times faster than current broadband, with even faster speeds predicted for the future.

“Last week the Prime Minister spoke about our ageing population,” Professor Croll said. “This week we heard about the ever-increasing costs of healthcare and how 2010 will need to address this through reform... Many who retire to attractive regional areas like ours move away again once they lose a partner or become chronically ill.

“Access to the healthcare service is a major factor influencing where people live.

“It’s the provision of a high speed NBN that will make distances less important and help contain healthcare costs.

“Education will also be revolutionised by a high-speed NBN.”

As well as SCU, the submission was supported by 14 local councils from Tweed Shire to the Great Lakes district, south of Port Macquarie.

Ms Saffin praised the university and its Regional Futures Institute for pulling together a compelling and well researched case for Australia’s eastern regional corridor to be among the first communities in mainland Australia to capitalise on the benefits of high-speed fibre optics.

“They have achieved this within a very short time frame since I arranged for Minister Conroy to visit Grafton late last year for a broadband forum, where he encouraged our region to put its best foot forward,” she said. “The submission, a collaborative effort involving 14 local councils and businesses at the cutting edge of IT, underlines that we live in a region which has demonstrated early wins though increased productivity and creative innovations. We also boast a combined population of 550,000 people with growth rates on a par with our capital cities.”

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