High-speed National Broadband Network (NBN) connections outside metro areas could encourage people to move from the city to regional towns, according to a poll.
Broadband comparison website Compare Broadband asked visitors “Would an NBN high speed internet connection encourage you to relocate to a rural area?” Of the 519 respondents, 40% (207 people) answered yes.
Adam Wajnberg, Compare Broadband spokesperson, said: "This is a surprising result. We recently asked site visitors if an area’s broadband infrastructure would affect their decision in choosing to rent or buy, and 80% said it would be a factor. This poll goes a step further, asking if people would consider moving out of the city altogether, suggesting telecommunications will be part of the decision in where they live and work in the future."
At the moment, fast, cheap and reliable ADSL2+ broadband connections are generally only available in cities or in larger regional towns, for premises within a few kilometres of a telephone exchange.
Faster connections available in more areas could encourage people who can work from home to live further from their workplace and telecommute.
Some states, including Victoria, are encouraging people to settle in regional areas in order to promote a vibrant regional economy. The poll results suggest high-speed broadband could play a part in a demographics shift.
A Victorian Government spokesperson said: "All Victorians would benefit from improved productivity, potential government service delivery and social equity through access to high-speed broadband.
"The NBN alone does not address all telecommunications services that are critical for regional and rural Victoria.
"However, it is the Commonwealth Government's responsibility to ensure that all Victorians have access to adequate telecommunications services."
How high-speed broadband can benefit regional areas
• Data centres – Websites that store large amounts of data, like Google and Amazon, need local data centres around the world to speed up response times. These organisations could take advantage of the lower costs associated with a base in a regional area while connecting to the NBN
• Telemedicine – High speed broadband can help patients access care at their local hospital that they would normally have to travel to the city for. Regional hospitals can upload images and other data to be diagnosed by specialists who work in metro locations and doctors can speak to their patients on a video call rather than in a face-to-face consultation
• Distance education – Students studying through distance education can already access lectures and course notes online but a high-speed connection will improve learning over distance. Students will be able to participate in seminars in real time instead of downloading videos.