Friday, 3 July 2015

Internet access in our region


Last month I released a survey to measure internet usage and satisfaction in our region. I received 57 submissions. ADSL and mobile broadband are the most common means of accessing the internet. Most people thought the value of broadband had remained the same and 31% stated value had decreased. Most people thought wireless broadband was a serious option for internet access. Generally households have multiple computers with the majority of people using the internet for web browsing, email and social networking. Interestingly a high percentage of households use the internet for studying (61%) and either working from home (57%) or running a business (52%). Sentiment towards the NBN was equally weighted between positive and negative but analysis of the comments showed the negativity was due to the unlikelihood of it reaching residents or inability to access it. A common complaint was the high cost of data and lack of coverage in the area. On the positive side, people are looking forward to improvements the NBN can provide and additional competition that can improve the cost of internet access. Over half of the respondents would connect to NBN if it was available, 3% wouldn't and 40% were not sure if they would. The most common choice for speed of access was the highest possible (250Mb/100Mb, although this is not being offered by the NBN) with a large number not sure what speed they would choose. People are prepared to pay between $50 to $100 for internet access, while 10% were prepare to pay whatever it costs to get it.

Overall there seems to be a lot of interest from residents in improving internet access and speed in the area. Some good news is that the Federal Communications department has approved funding in round one of the mobile blackspot programme and this combined with the Royalties for Regions-funded Regional Telecommunication Project will provide funding for four areas in the Shire of Chittering (Bindoon West, Upper Chittering, Lower Chittering and Wannamal). Local government planning approval will be required for new towers. In Bindoon, some local residents have been vocally opposed to the tower on Bell Hill, while NBN have argued it is the best site as it reaches the most people. Hopefully a suitable resolution can be found to resolve the deadlock so the deployment of improved communications can be progressed. It would good to hear what the councillors have to say on this matter and what options are being proposed to resolve this issue.

Survey results can be seen accessed at http://ow.ly/OSYeg
Map of mobile blackspot funded areas http://nationalmap.gov.au/ (filter on funded mobile blackspots)

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