Australia has elbowed its way towards the top of the "e-readiness" ladder, coming in second to the US according to the latest international ranking by Economist Intelligence Unit/Pyramid Research (EIU).
Australia shoved aside a host of richer countries, gaining bonus points for its innovation and entrepreneurial spirit as well as its "regulatory regime geared to e-business", according to the report.
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Richard Alston, took the report as an opportunity to crow from his soapbox. "This latest report comes hot on heels of reports by HSBC, Access Economics, OECD, Goldman Sachs, Merill Lynch, the IMF and the US Federal Reserve, which all demonstrate that Australia is a vibrant new economy up there with the world's leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) countries," Alston said.
However, the EIU report warned "e-business simply cannot function without adequate telecommunications and Internet infrastructure," in particular broadband data services. It is an area where the Government has been accused of neglecting to lead from the front, having only opened the competitive local loop in August last year giving Australia a two-year handicap in terms of uptake and connectivity.
Philip Sykes, CEO of broadband distributor RequestDSL, said Alston's assertion that Australia is on-par with the rest of the world in terms of price, deployment, and penetration, is way off the green.
"Australia has a very open regulatory environment that allows competitors into the market but that's only the first step," Sykes explained. "Having the right price structure around that is an important second step and in this respect Australia is still too high and that is a major barrier. In terms of the sheer number of customers connected we're way behind. If we have 100,000 customers we'd be lucky."