Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is increasingly being recognised as a primary component of ‘live, work and invest’ decisions of individuals and businesses. Metropolitan equivalent mobile connectivity and high-speed broadband communications are fundamental drivers for regional development and are increasingly being identified as key components of future regional success.
The Federal Government is currently embarking on, arguably, one of the most ambitious infrastructure initiatives Australia has seen in the form of the rollout of the National Broadband Network. On 7 April 2009 the Australian Government announced that it would establish a new company to invest up to $43 billion over eight years to deliver superfast broadband to Australian homes and workplaces.
The Central Highlands region, through the City of Ballarat, Rural City of Ararat and Shires of Central Goldfields, Golden Plains, Hepburn, Moorabool, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees, recognise the importance of ICT and engaged the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovationand Lateral Plains to develop the Central Highlands ICT Study. The study builds upon and integrates with Ballarat ICT 2030 and the Moorabool Community Broadband and Telecommunications Strategy, guides the region's actions to enhance ICT, seeks to ensure the region is well positioned for the future and demonstrates regional readiness for an early rollout of the National Broadband Network. The study's objectives included:
- Mapping current ICT adoption levels and service satisfaction
- Identifying areas of pent up demand for ICT services
- In the light of the study's findings, examining the consequences for the Central Highlands region
- Identifying areas of opportunity for residents and businesses
- Recommending actions to enhance ICT in the region