With the Coalition review into the NBN, the technical details of how we’ll be connected are still an unknown for many regions in Australia. However, what is certain is that faster internet speeds are coming (regardless of the method) and that they will have a huge impact on our society. Arguably regional Australia will benefit more than the metropolitan areas.
Internet connectivity has the ability to significantly help those who are disadvantaged whether it be due to geography, economic conditions, education or health.
If we don’t get our High Speed Broadband connectivity strategy right, the likelihood of a digital divide between those able to take advantage of high speed broadband and those who can’t will increase..
A recent interview from Wired with Bill Clinton and Bill Gates highlighted some of the impacts connectivity can have on a world scale.
When asked about the value of connecting the world with the internet, Clinton commented that connectivity can be “incredibly empowering to people on the bottom of the economic pyramid”. He noted that after the South Asia tsunami, something as simple as cell phone connectivity for fishing families boosted the average income by 30 per cent. Internet connectivity in Haiti completely revoloutionised the way Haitians managed their currency and banking transactions.
Gates emphasised its impact on the state of health care, education and government. “Connectivity is an amazing thing, like connecting up a health center so we can get advice to a health worker who may not be trained as a doctor.”
“Getting connectivity to schoolrooms is a fantastic thing. Connectivity enables transparency for better government, education and health.”
A September report by the National Rural Health Alliance Inc states that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities face distinct challenges in accessing and using basic telecommunications services.
“In 2008-09, Internet use was significantly lower among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (62 per cent) compared with the national average (74 per cent).”
By creating more connected networks combined with education and resources, big steps can be taken towards closing the gap. This emphasises that we focus less on the platform that provides us with connectivity, and more on what we do with it when it’s here.