The NBN will enable more people to “work where they live”, according to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who attended the opening of the NBN Co network on the mainland in Armidale today where the home work possibilities were showcased at length.
During the presentation, hosted by ABC science journalist Graham Phillips, a promotional video was shown with an interview with a small business owner from Armidale who works from home, but needs to send large files over the Internet.
“With the NBN I don’t need to worry about sending large files,” she said. “Now I can look at doing work for people interstate and even overseas.”
Gillard said the NBN would not only connect regional communities with the best medical and education services, it would allow people to “work from home, where they live”.
“Armidale aspires to be globally linked [and] we want to give young people a future right here, instead of them thinking they have to move to a big city,” she said.
Unlike with the copper network, slow connections will be a thing of the past with the NBN, Gillard said.
“Multiply [broadband] by a million times over and that’s the NBN,” she said. “By decade’s end the whole of Australia will be connected to fast broadband and the monopoly of Telstra will be broken and we will not stop until last home is connected.”
Gillard told a story about her mother telling her when she was young that “a girl could always get a job if she cold type”.
“I learnt to type on an Olivetti manual typewriter, but we’ve come a long way since the Olivetti manual.”
Federal independent member for New England, Tony Windsor, backed up Gillard’s enthusiasm by saying the NBN has the capacity to “reverse the paradigm” country Australians have lived in for many decades.
“Distance will be irrelevant for health and education and the congestion in cities could be resolved by encouraging people to move to country areas,” Windsor said.
“This piece of infrastructure has incredible capacity to deliver a range of products over time and some haven’t even been developed yet. It has potential to embrace new technologies which will be created in the future.”
In addition to allowing people to work from home and run a home-based business, Windsor said more elderly people will avoid moving into aged care facilities as they can receive better medical supervision at home.
“A lot of people talk about the cost of the NBN, but what if aged care was embraced by fibre optic technology where people were able to stay in homes longer, not just because of real time monitoring of health and the security blanket that would involve,” he said.
“As this baby bubble drifts through the aged care sector there will be an enormous amount of capital required to care for aged people. If we can keep people in their own homes through this technology that would be beneficial.”
Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the NBN is now “well and truly a reality” and May 18 will be the day the communications landscape in mainland Australia “began an historic transformation for all Australians in all areas of their lives”.
“I’m pleased to report more than 4300 kilometres of fibre backbone links across regional Australia has been rolled out already,” Conroy said. “And the Broadband Blackspots program is delivering 6000 kilometers of backbone fibre benefiting 400,000 regional Australians. This is due for completion later this year.”
NBN Co chief Mike Quigley said the NBN is not just about better speeds, but it’s about opening competition and giving everyone a fair go, especially in rural communities.
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