5.5 Communications infrastructure
The internet has produced productivity benefits across the economy by allowing businesses to sell, locate and purchase supplies more easily, maintain real-time inventories and deal with customers more efficiently. The NBN will take this a step further.
Businesses and governments enjoying internet‑related productivity benefits estimated at $27 billion in 2010, the internet is now essential infrastructure for the Australian economy (Productivity Commission 2011b). The digital economy is influencing almost all sectors of the Australian economy, from heath care to mining services. And a greater share of Australian spending is now occurring online—estimated at 4 per cent and rapidly growing (Productivity Commission 2011b). Importantly, it is also the vehicle for a large amount of modern innovation and new forms of social interaction.
A faster and more reliable network in Australia is necessary to grow online innovation and ensure continued access to the exploding global internet economy.
- Australia’s communications infrastructure and markets will be world leading and support the rapid exchange and spread of ideas and commerce in the Asian region.
Our reforms to the telecommunications sector through the rollout of the NBN and the structural separation of Telstra—separating the wholesale provision of telecommunications infrastructure from the retail provision of telecommunications services—provide the opportunity to create a level playing field and enable competition and investment to grow across the economy.
The NBN will provide high-speed broadband access for 100 per cent of Australian premises. Ninety‑three per cent of homes, schools and businesses will get access to a fibre network capable of delivering broadband speeds of up to one‑gigabit per second. The remaining 7 per cent of premises will be served by a combination of next generation fixed wireless and satellite technologies providing peak download speeds of 12 megabits per second (NBN Co 2011).
The provision of ubiquitous, high-speed and reliable internet connections has the potential to change almost all facets of work and life. Broadband will bridge geographical barriers to Asian markets by allowing all Australian businesses and households to conduct more of their activities online.
The NBN will offer benefits across business, health, education and other services. High-performing videoconferencing will boost collaboration between researchers, community groups, schools and universities in Australia and with those in the Asian region.
The application of the NBN will expand over time and so we will continue to monitor potential barriers to its use along with barriers to expanding into new technological markets.
We are helping realise the productivity gains from this physical infrastructure and boost online security. These reforms and initiatives support the National Digital Economy Strategy, which aims for Australia to be a leading digital economy by 2020. Building on this, we are developing Australia’s first White Paper on cyber and digital economy policy, which will provide an integrated policy framework to enable Australia to realise the benefits of the digital age—including security, telework, skills and encouraging innovation.