NBN could boost economy and welfare

A national broadband network could grow the Australian economy by two per cent as business embraces high speed internet, a university study finds.

Nearly $4 billion per year could be injected into the economy by small and medium businesses that take advantage of the national broadband network (NBN), according to University of Melbourne research.

The faster speeds would also enable wider competition and meant local businesses could no longer be complacent, the report's author Dr Leith Campbell told AAP.

"If you're the local coffee and sandwich shop, you think, `My competitors are the people next door'... but you see all the time that broadband is disruptive," Dr Campbell said.

"Businesses should take these services up and if they don't they'll be disrupted by people who do."

The NBN would make the difference for smaller businesses which would not otherwise have easy access to cloud computing or e-commerce, according to the research.

The report also found faster internet is worth a potential two per cent increase in both gross domestic product and household consumption.

The two big winners would be health services delivered over the internet and an increase in remote work, Dr Campbell said.

"These two clusters of services do actually make a significant difference to the economy," he said.

The research predicted both industries would expand to 12 per cent of the workforce when enabled by faster broadband, mirroring similar numbers in the US.

Although most of the growth would fall in the capital cities NBN Executive General Manager of Business Ben Salmon said the network is also bringing business to regional centres.

"We're seeing whole communities change as a result of new technology and connectivity as more businesses gain access to fast broadband," he said.

Dr Campbell is a researcher at the University of Melbourne's Centre for Energy-efficient Telecommunications.

Source: AAP

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