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Australia launches digital blueprint

'NBN the only solution'

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Australia is gunning to be ranked in the top five OECD countries by 2020 for broadband connections to the home and for the number of businesses using online opportunities as part of the Government's freshly launched National Digital Economy Strategy.

Australia currently ranks 18th in OECD broadband connection rankings with 23.4 broadband subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

Launching the strategy at the Cebit conference, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Senator Stephen Conroy said: "maximising the benefit of the digital economy requires action by all levels of government, industry and the community as a whole.”

Crafting the benefits of the NBN in a hard sell to the business and public sector Conroy announced that the government would provide $23.8 million over three years for a Digital Communities initiative, a focus of which will be to establish a ‘Digital Hub’ in each of the 40 communities to first benefit from the NBN.

The government would also provide $12.4 million over three years to a Digital Enterprises initiative to assist SMEs and not-for-profit organisations in those same 40 communities to help them fully utilise the broadband network.

The digital blueprint has a strong focus on ehealth and education with a remit to provide 495,000 telehealth consultations via the NBN by 2015 and that by 2020, 25 percent of all specialists will be delivering telehealth conferences to remote patients. By 2020, 90 percent of high priority consumers such as older Australians, mothers and babies and those with chronic diseases will be able to access individual electronic health records.

Also by 2020, Conroy forecast that the Australia would have doubled its teleworking so 12 percent of employees may work away from traditional workplaces and four out of five Australians will choose to engage with the government through the Internet or other type of online service.

"By connecting to high-speed broadband, households will benefit through savings generated from time-saving activities such as telecommuting for remote work and study and improved access to business and job opportunities, health, education, social and government services," Conroy said. ®

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