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Conroy aims to have Australia top five globally in online business

Stephen Conroy, Federal Communications Minister, has made it a government goal to have Australia rank in the top five globally for a number of businesses having an online presence.

Delivering the keynote address at CeBIT 2011 in Sydney, Conroy outlined how he wants the country to rank in the top five Organisation for Economic Cooperation (OECD) countries for businesses online by 2020.

As part of the Digital Economy Strategy being launched today, the minister has pledged $12.4 million over three years to fund education programs for businesses to learn how to make use of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

“We will provide $12.4 million over three years to a Digital Enterprises initiative to assist small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organizations (including local cultural organizations) in and around the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN to help them fully utilize the broadband network,” said Conroy.

The government will also provide $23.8 million over three years to establish a ‘digital hub’ in each of the 40 communities to first receive access to the NBN. These centers will provide training to local residents on how to use and connect to the fiber network.

“The Gillard Government is committed to ensuring Australian households and businesses, through the NBN, can receive the full benefits of the digital economy no matter where they live around Australia,” said Conroy.

The announcement follows on from the launch of the first mainland trial site of the NBN in Armidale two weeks ago.

“Building the NBN is a key step towards that vision, which has as one of its goals Australia being among the top five OECD countries by 2020 when it comes to the percentage of households connected to broadband at home,” he added.

In total there are eight goals the government is aiming to achieve by 2020 in the Digital Economy Strategy:

  • Australia will rank in the top five OECD countries in the portion of households that connect to broadband at home.
  • Australia will rank in the top five OECD countries in the portion of businesses and not-for-profit organisations using online opportunities.
  • The majority of Australian households, businesses and other organisations will have access to smart technology to better manage their energy use.
  • 90% of high priority consumers such as older Australians, mothers and babies and those with chronic diseases, can access individual electronic health records.
  • By 2015, 495,000 telehealth consultations will have been delivered and by 2020, 25 per cent of all specialists will be delivering telehealth consultations to remote patients.
  • Australian schools, TAFEs, universities and higher education institutions will have the connectivity to develop and collaborate on innovative educational services that will extend the opportunities for online learning.
  • Australia will have at least doubled its level of teleworking so that at least 12% of Australian employees may work away from the traditional workplace.
  • Four of five Australians will choose to engage with the government through the Internet or other type of online service.

Conroy also announced that the NBN now has a list of prominent advocates of the network, officially known as ‘Broadband Champions’.

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