The Federal Government would be wise to consider Wollongong as an early recipient of the National Broadband Network (NBN) as it would benefit all parties, according to Regional Development Australia (RDA) Illawarra.
The regional development consultation group has been lobbying for the Government to bring the NBN to its region as an early release site since its inception. The group scored a windfall when Kiama was announced as an early release site so the plan now is to push for other Illawarra regions to be considered to receive the NBN earlier as well.
At a parliamentary hearing in Wollongong, RDA Illawarra’s head of ICT, Geoff McQueen, said making Wollongong an early release site will actually be beneficial for the NBN and Australia.
“Rather than talking about what the NBN can do for us, I’d like to talk about what we can do for the NBN,” he said.
According to McQueen, Wollongong is well and truly ready to take on the NBN with a community that overwhelmingly welcomes the $36 billion network which means take-up of services will be high.
He said if NBN Co leverages the readiness of the region it will “pay dividends for the rest of the country”.
Wollongong has strong community coordination, outward-looking businesses, a strong ICT services industry and a large labour and skills pool waiting to be tapped as a result of high youth unemployment, McQueen said.
“We’re in a geographically constrained environment with ocean on one side and mountains on the other,” he said. “If you are going to run experiments and [learn more about the network], this is a pretty good place to do it.”
But one compelling factor for Wollongong to be considered to get the NBN sooner is the region’s high degree of latent demand.
“We are the 10th largest city in the country and every city ahead of us has something better than copper available to them as broadband,” McQueen said.
“We are the tallest dwarf.
“… people are willing, able and keen to take up [the NBN].”
RDA Illawarra will continue to push for the NBN to be rolled out early to the rest of the region.
The parliamentary hearing on the potential roles of the NBN continues today.