Regional businesses concerned at "need for speed" NBN comments

Friday 10 February, 2017

Small businesses across Queensland desperately seeking faster internet have been left flabbergasted by latest developments.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) believes small businesses, particularly in the regions, will be angered by the recent comments from NBN Co boss, Chief Executive Bill Morrow.

Mr Morrow, who joined NBN Co with a remit to ensure all homes, businesses and communities across Australia can access fast broadband as soon as possible, stated there wasn’t “that big of a demand out there” for super-fast broadband in Australia.

“Even if we offered it for free, we see the evidence around the world that they wouldn’t use it anyway,” he said.

CCIQ Senior Policy Advisor Catherine Pham says Mr Morrow’s comments will be met with confusion or anger, particularly as many Queensland businesses are still in some cases using slow and unreliable dial-up connection.

“Businesses have been telling us for a long time now that high speed internet is essential to commerce in the 21st century," she said.

“In an era of 24-hour online trading, social media marketing and online communications, businesses will undoubtedly struggle to survive without this vital tool.

“Regional businesses in particularly will be rightly angered by these comments as they continue to struggle through their “data drought”, all the while watching as the NBN is rolled out in the thriving metropolitan cities.

“Comments about there being no demand is straight-out wrong, short-sighted and does nothing when it comes to helping small businesses, job creation and lifting our overall standard of living.”

Ms Pham said the rise of the digital economy had huge potential benefits as connections remove the tyranny of distance, connecting people like never before.

“Web presence is fairly universal among Queensland small businesses with more than 90 per cent of businesses we surveyed declaring a web presence," she said.

“As might be expected, businesses are reliant upon their website, with 74 per cent believing it is essential to their business and 57 per cent believing that they couldn’t function easily without it.

“With 69 per cent of businesses generating leads from their websites, it is clearly a critical tool for doing business.

Ms Pham said business are extremely supporting of the NBN and the opportunities it will bring for improved productivity.

“Almost 70 per cent of businesses believe the NBN represents a good investment in Australia’s commercial future and 70 per cent believe it will make a positive difference to their business.

“With one in two businesses believing it will provide a competitive advantage when competing globally, comments such as Mr Morrow’s are seemingly unfounded.”



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