Preparing the Northern Rivers for High Speed Broadband and Better Telecommunications

The digital economy has the potential to transform every aspect of our lives including business, health, education and government services. The means to unlock this potential is broadband, the core infrastructure of the new century. High speed broad band and reliable telecommunications are critical to the successful development of industry and the way we engage with our neighbours and the world.

RDA Northern Rivers is committed to the improvement of telecommunications and Broadband access and speeds throughout the Northern Rivers. RDA-Northern Rivers with other local and regional partners is currently engaged in a number of projects aimed at increasing access to high quality and high speed broadband internet and communication services for all residents and businesses in the region.

We have supported getting NBN ready and promoting an early NBN rollout by:

  • Identifying and implementing NBN requirements – nbn™ has been charged with the rollout of the high speed broadband infrastructure through Australia. To date many areas of the Northern Rivers have access to fixed wireless nbn services – to find out more about the rollout go to their website Click here to read more about nbn™.
  • Understanding the region’s Broadband capacity and capabilities by identifying the needs of early adopting industries and businesses.
  • Actively Participating with Local Government and Stakeholders in Broadband Advocacy and Information

Most recently RDA Northern Rivers has completed and adopted our Digital Activation Plan. You can download a copy of the plan here

The growth of regional industries and high-speed broadband

In order to better support the strategic initiatives as indicated in the RDA-Northern Rivers Regional Plan, Industry & Investment Regional Business Growth Plan and the Regional Industry and Economic Plan there is a need to better understand the region’s Broadband capacity and capabilities. In the first instance, we chose to focus on the region’s Creative Industries, Health and Aged Care, Education and Financial sectors as these are strong growth sectors in the region, that have potential to strengthen and grow using new technologies and ICT infrastructure.

Whilst data exists about the nature of each of these sectors in the regional economy, there is a lack of information about regional high speed broadband needs, current demand, gaps and impacts on current business operations and performance. There is significant anecdotal information regarding issues and opportunities. However, more detailed market information is required for the region to develop and present a strong business case for broadband investment.

Regional Development Australia – Northern Rivers commissioned AEC Group, a research company to undertake research into the high-speed broadband needs of industries in the Northern Rivers.  The Critical Industries Survey was launched in April 2012.

You can access a copy of the survey report here. (add link)

NBN Readiness

RDA-NR participated in a number of initiatives with other key stakeholders.

  1. Northern Rivers Broadbandis a group of Councils and others working together to prepare for NBN rollout and improve telecommunications in the Northern Rivers. The following presentations were given to local government representatives during May and June 2011:
  1. Broadband Today Allianceis a consortium of more than 100 local councils and other stakeholders from around Australia. The group shares information and lessons from the early rollout of the NBN.
  2. Go Broadbandis an initiative led by the Regional Futures Institute at Southern Cross University to promote the Eastern Regional Corridor, i.e. the most eastern mainland coastal strip between Brisbane and Sydney. This sea change region of growth presents dynamic and vibrant communities of creative activity.
  3. Eastern Regional Digital Corridor comprises stakeholders from the Hunter region to South East Queensland who are advocating for high speed broadband rollout along the East Coast. Download a PDF of  the 2011 Submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee.

Skills and Workforce Development

The following organisations are looking to skill and recruit a local workforce to take advantage of the employment and contract opportunities associated with National Broadband Network (NBN) roll out.

The Industry Capability Network (ICN) is a not-for-profit organisation that helps companies find new business in major projects and supply chains. ICN is working with NBN Co on the NBN roll out to help regional businesses find contracts within the project.

The ICN ‘Gateway’ allows you to list your company free of charge, search for new business and register expressions of interest against projects here and overseas. To register your company visit www.icngateway.org.au or call 1300 961 139.

The North Coast Institute of TAFE offers a range of  telecommunications training courses in readiness for the NBN. Visit their website or call 1300 923 758 for more information.

Building Australia’s Future Workforce (Department of Employment) has identified the Northern Rivers as one of 20 Priority Employment Areas. Contact the Local Employment Co-ordinator for more information. The latest report from the Department of Employment here

Links

About the Northern Rivers Region

Regional Development Australia

Telecommunications Carriers