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Press Release

Budget 2014: Ultrafast Broadband – but we need more to realise its potential

Ultrafast Broadband is like a new Ferrari. You know it has incredible acceleration and can achieve impressive high speeds. But do you have the ability or the highway on which to realise the car’s ultimate potential?

Research indicates that broadband adoption boosts a firm’s productivity by 7–10%, but do these firms have the hardware and ability to ensure they capture every percentage point of this lift in productivity? In the majority of cases, the answer would be no.

Technology is changing the way we all operate, as steam and electricity did for manufacturing and agriculture in the 19th Century, but you can’t kick any goals if you have old hardware and software and your technology skills have not been refreshed since Y2K.

Just have a look inside your own home at the way your children are adapting and adopting, the new technologies that are rolling down the broadband super highway.  If your children are like mine, it may mean they revert to their rooms and communicate with friends via txt, Facebook, Snapchat etc, rarely talk to each other. However, they are also quick adopters of the efficiencies offered – just look at the boom in on-line buying by this generation.

This is where the Government has a role to play, and the Budget is a perfect starting point. We have the Ultrafast Broadband that will lift productivity by up to 10%, but no support network to help businesses tap into this potential.

The Government has yet to put in place its five-point action plan to realise the economic, social and productivity benefits of much faster broadband but an allocation of funds in the Budget for these initiatives with education at the forefront would be a massive step forward.

Labour in its leaked ICT Policy framework wants open access for all to discourage overbuild of UFB and sharing of investment risk, but there is little within the framework for SME owners. 

We need some action now as gains will not happen overnight. If we wait until the elections, it will be another year before anything meaningful happens, if it does at all. Do we really want the Ferrari sitting in the garage, depreciating, that long?

We also need to take some responsibility ourselves and not just rely on the Government. Businesses need to identify how they themselves are going to benefit, not just wait for it to happen. The Government is investing $1.5 billion in building the information super highway and businesses will need to use it to remain competitive and viable.

The ‘always on’ culture means that electronic communication is intrinsic to life, both at work and away from it. But while many businesses recognise this by investing in new technology that permits greater flexibility within working patterns, many working practices continue to demonstrate a traditional perception of work/life balance rather than a more ‘joined-up’ approach. 

Ultrafast broadband will provide benefits but if a business hasn’t considered cloud computing, how to earn and sell more from their website and build better client relationships, then the gains won’t be there.

Further enquiries, please contact:

Paul Kane
Grant Thornton Partner, Privately Held Business
T +64 (0)9 308 2576

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