Residents in rural areas of the Victorian Central Highlands region are keen to embrace improvements to broadband and mobile phone connection arising from the roll- out of the national Broadband Network.
This became evident at the recent Broadband EXPO held at the Moonambel Pavilion in Pyrenees Shire on Wednesday 21st November. The venue was a hive of information on connecting to and utilising the National Broadband Network, particularly fixed wireless and satellite connection. Cr. Michael O'Connor, the mayor of Pyrenees Shire Council, opened the EXPO advocating the benefits of reliable and faster broadband service. Convened by Council, the EXPO was just one of a number of activities funded through the Central Highlands Digital Enterprise project.
The project is a two year initiative managed by Centre for eCommerce and Communications at the University of Ballarat. Partnering in the project are Local and State Government- including Pyrenees, Ballarat, Hepburn, and Golden Plains councils. Major funding has been provided through the Australian Government's Department of Broadband Communication and the Digital Economy.
According to the project manager Gerrie Carr-MacFie interest and attendance at the Moonambel event indicates rural based residents, business and community groups are eagerly awaiting roll-out of the National Broadband Network.
"EXPO attendees were vocal in expressing frustration at current capacity constraints. Businesses, farmers and community groups from Moonambel, Redbank, Landsborough, Avoca and surrounds indicated immediate and high need for improved broadband capacity. The Digital Enterprise project will work to ensure that they will be ready to take advantage of improvements in reliability and speed. It's not all about fibre roll out in larger metro and regional communities. Our rural communities and business will benefit from fixed wireless and improved satellite provision," said Carr-MacFie.
Residents attending the Moonambel EXPO participated in interactive demonstrations, listened to case histories and diverse information. Trade stands by NBN Co, Ballarat ICT and Central Highlands Digital Enterprise were complemented by robust Panel Discussions. The audience response to information about the NBN was 'Bring it On'.
"Overall the attendees discovered how the NBN will improve communication and connectivity in the region. A business panel also debated and informed on how technology is transforming communication and practice in their organisations."
"The Central Highlands Digital Enterprise project recognises that building a broadband network is only part of the equation in leveraging a stronger economic future for rural communities. Businesses and community groups need to be empowered to adopt and use the technology. Our project, thanks to government funding, is able to provide information and more importantly practical skill development" advised Carr-MacFie.
More information on the Central Highlands Digital Enterprise Project can be found at www.digibiz.net.au
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