• Broadband Champions program
  • Australia lags behind OECD
  • Initiative part of NBN rollout

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today released the National Digital Economy Strategy, which holds the key aim that Australia be one of the top five OECD countries for household broadband penetration.

The strategy, which was launched at the annual CeBIT Australia information technology industry conference in Sydney, seeks to improve broadband penetration in the country prior to the completion of the government’s controversial National Broadband Network (NBN).

The strategy states, “Ensuring that Australia becomes a leading digital economy will contribute to Australia’s productivity, maintain our global competitiveness and improve our social wellbeing. The government’s commitment to build the enabling infrastructure for the digital economy, the National Broadband Network (NBN), is a key step towards this vision.”

Conroy announced a government funding of $23.8 million over three years for a Digital Communities initiative. This will focus on establishing a 'Digital Hub' in each of the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN.

Conroy also announced a budget of $21.7 million to fund an online training service for interactive learning via the NBN. An additional $12.4 million will be set aside to provide a Digital Enterprises program to assist small-to-medium ventures and not-for-profits to get online.

The government has selected 20 “broadband champions” who will be working to promote the benefits of the NBN. Champions include Planet Ark founder Jon Dee, eBay ANZ vice president Deb Starkey and chair of the world medical association Dr Mukesh Haikerwal.