The National Broadband Network (NBN) will help in retaining residents in low-density communities, according to the Southern Adelaide Economic Development Board (The Board).
At the parliamentary inquiry on the role and potential of the NBN at Victor Harbour, South Australia, the Board spoke at length on the benefits the network would bring to the Southern Adelaide region.
The Southern Adelaide Economic Development Board was formed in 2007 to promote economic development in the Southern Adelaide region. It was created by the cities of Marion and Onkaparinga.
The two cities have almost 15,000 premises that currently do not have ADSL broadband access due to cable inadequacies, according to the Board.
To deter residents from leaving the area for bigger cities and to promote population growth in Adelaide, 13 major transit oriented developments (TODs) have been planned across the metropolitan area. Three of them have been tagged for Southern Adelaide.
New development plans such as TODs have the potential to add 20,000 homes over the coming years and will drive demand for high-speed broadband services offered by the NBN according to The Board.
This also applies to tertiary education students that often have to travel long distances to attend school.
“The NBN is an enabler for community retention and for retaining those children and young adults into those communities rather than to leave and go to larger cities,” The Board’s economic development advisor, Brian Hales, said at the hearing.
The NBN will boost employment in the region as it will provide an incentive for current residents to stay as well as attract new people into the area.
The Board ranked a high-speed broadband infrastructure as more important than an improved transport infrastructure in terms of contributing to the local economy.
“Transport infrastructure, while essential and in need of significant improvement, will not deliver the extra competitive edge the region is looking for,” the Board said in its submission to the parliamentary inquiry. “A more sustainable economy will be one that trades in ideas and knowledge and broadband is critical for this.”
The NBN’s ability to retain people in less populated communities was also addressed in the Connecting Communities whitepaper by Dr Tim William which was commissioned by Huawei.
The paper, released in February, detailed how fast broadband was keeping residents from regional areas from leaving.