Digital & Telecommunications Connectivity Audit & Strategy

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A Word from Our Chair

Disruptions and uncertainty in our world have become the norm.  It has reinforced the importance of connectivity to stay in touch, to innovate, to work remotely and to bridge the tyranny of distance between regional and metropolitan areas. Connectivity is critical to investment and employment attraction, delivering the economic cornerstone for industry investment and liveability in our region. The need for digital literacy and infrastructure has never been more important for our regional communities to thrive. With this report, we aim to advance the Darling Downs and South-West Queensland region ahead of the digital curve.

Digital connectivity in our region is imperative to its continued success, to maximise economic opportunities and to provide the social benefits of being connected. With so much of our day to day lives depending on digital connections, this report hopes to provide a roadmap for the Darling Downs and South West communities to improve their digital connection.

Connectivity is critical in day-to-day business operations. Cash registers, EFTPOS machines and check-in apps all rely on internet connections, as do many specialised pieces of equipment. More businesses are also operating online, selling their services and products to the world. Improved connectivity in rural and remote areas levels the playing field to our metropolitan counterparts, allowing local business to remain viable and attracting new businesses to regional locations.

People are more reliant on digital connectivity than ever and expect to have it available to them for work, education, social and entertainment purposes. We hope that this report will help to advocate for the same level of connectivity as city environments, improving lifestyles and removing the need to compromise because we live in rural or remote communities.

Access to health services is also imperative for our region. Digital Health services including telehealth are now allowing patients and health care professionals to access specialist health services without the need to travel hundreds of kilometres, however they require strong digital connectivity to provide the best services.

Education has also observed a significant uplift in digital requirements to meet basic education needs. Access to digital connection provides students with access to material, equivalent to those in larger locations. Digital connectivity also provides more options for remote learning to access the full curriculum and subjects, normally only available in large schools with sufficient student numbers.

Indigenous peoples represent a significant part of our community. Evidence suggests that this part of the community has a wider digital divide than most segments.

Access to digital connectivity will improve the availability of essential services and other social and economic benefits that are currently hard to reach. It also provides an opportunity to connect to culture and family virtually.

Our region is a major tourist destination, particularly with the boom in road tripping and caravanning. The COVID 19 pandemic has seen an exponential rise in the numbers of tourists visiting our western towns. Consumers now expect good connectivity for work and entertainment where they live and where they visit.

Currently, many businesses in areas of low population density are reliant on suboptimal connectivity solutions. Rural regions cannot attract new investment and retain current industry without providing this critical service. Improved connectivity is essential to enabling industry development, business improvement and innovation along with providing our residents and visitors with basic access to education, health, and banking.

RDA DDSW strongly believes in the need for rural and remote communities to have equal access to the digital economy to remain competitive, for both business attraction and liveability. Connectivity in rural and remote regions is essential to our economy and business viability and growth. Digital infrastructure providing dependable high-speed delivery for businesses to remain competitive and connected is critical now and in the future. We encourage governments, our elected representatives, industry and communities, to utilise this report to advocate for the infrastructure that will close the digital divide and prepare us for exponential advances in technology already on our horizon.

Fiona Gaske
Committee Chair

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