The government has revealed that Australians are paying more for broadband compared to the US, UK, Canada, Japan and South Korea.
Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, said that while the Rudd Government is moving to improve Australia’s Internet and Broadband, the country is not ‘matching international peers as well as we could in all aspects of our digital engagement.’
‘For example, the latest comparative Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Developement (OECD) data indicates that as at December 2008 Australia’s rate of broadband take-up – as measured by the number of subscribers per 100 inhabitants – was 25.4. This is behind the US (25.8), the United Kingdom (28.5), Canada (29) and South Korea (32). In terms of price, Australia is ranked 3rd most expensive in the OECD when it comes to monthly broadband prices – more expensive than the US, UK, Canada, Japan and South Korea,” says Conroy.
“There is also evidence that many homes and businesses in Australia cannot access high speed broadband services currently. A recent report by Access Economics on the economic impacts of high speed broadband indicates that 62 per cent of the population currently do not have access to speeds of 12Mbps or more,” added Conroy.
He also mentioned that while Australian business is a heavy user of the digital economy, it is not automatically translating into full engagement with the digital economy.
“ABS data shows that despite 87 per cent of Australian businesses using the internet in 2007-08, only 42 per cent had a web presence, and only 27 per cent took orders online.”
Therefore, the government “should enable individuals, households and businesses to take up the opportunities raised by the digital economy,” Conroy said.
The government is now looking at key initiatives that will grow Australia’s digital economy engagement. This includes a $2 billion, five-year commitment to build Australia’s digital media literacy amongst schoolchildren, a business advisory service to small and medium enterprises to help increase their productivity, as well as a $100 million investment in the National Energy Efficiency Initiative.
“The digital economy is our economy. It is our society. Our digital engagement and debate must reflect that… Government reports tend to be static, a point fixed in time. The digital economy is the opposite of this: It is a fast-paced, evolving and dynamic network of technology, business models and social practices. In our own small way, we have attempted to put the digital in our national digital economy strategy,” continued Conroy.
“The Australian Government is committed to advancing the digital economy in Australia and we join with you in contributing to our digital future,” concluded Conroy.