Australia's broadband infrastructure 'holding back the economy'

Australia's broadband infrastructure is holding back the economy, according to 75% of respondents to an online poll from Compare Broadband.

Compare Broadband asked site visitors, "Is Australia's broadband infrastructure holding back the nation's economy?" Three quarters (75.4%) of the 475 voters (358 votes) said 'Yes', while only 21.3% (101 votes) said 'No', and 3.4% (16 votes) 'didn't know'.

A significant proportion of Australia's economy is based on the farming and resources sectors, yet broadband access in rural areas is restricted. Even in some metropolitan areas, businesses and consumers cannot receive high-speed broadband connections.

It is hard to imagine the multi-billion dollar resource companies in the Outback not having high quality broadband, but in some instances this must be the case as Australia's vast geographical landmass has prohibited infrastructure in certain bush locations.

With the current hung parliament in Australia, and its winner being decided by three independent candidates who all live in regional areas where broadband is lacking, broadband could be the deciding factor to the political conundrum at hand.

Compare Broadband's General Manager, Scott Kennedy, said: "I'm surprised that 75% of people feel our current broadband infrastructure is stifling the economy. Evidently it is an important issue to Australian consumers.  The NBN may well be on the money."

Another argument for broadband internet being key to Australia's economy centres on the telecommunications and information technology industries. If businesses have faster broadband, they can then compete on a par with rival Asian companies. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also pointed out that the NBN itself will provide a huge number of jobs via its necessary construction and maintenance.

All of these issues point to a belief by Australians that our economy is being held back because of the current broadband infrastructure's lack of speed and availability. It will be interesting to see which way the three remaining independents go in the coming week, as the Federal government's $43 billion optical fibre-to-the-home NBN policy varies greatly from the Coalition's $6.5 billion Mobile Wireless network plan.