Construction Firms Are By Far The Most Unhappy About Australia's Broadband Infrastructure: Report

Former communications minister Stephen Conroy (centre)
launching the NBN in Queensland’s Bunya Estate.

Construction businesses are least satisfied with Australia’s existing broadband infrastructure, complaining of unreliable internet connections and unhelpful service providers in outer metropolitan and regional areas.

An Australian Industry Group survey of 170 businesses found that attitudes towards high-speed broadband varied across industry sectors.

Only 18% of manufacturing firms expected high-speed broadband to be “essential” in the next 2-3 years, compared with 42% of construction companies, 33% of mining companies and 33% of service sector firms.

Manufacturing companies also least expected to rely on high-speed broadband in the medium term, with only 72% rating high-speed broadband as having at least “some importance” to their business, versus 75% of construction companies, 83% of mining companies, and 87% of service sector firms.

There were also very different levels of satisfaction in existing infrastructure across industry sectors, the Ai Group found, suggesting that it reflected “varied geographical locations and ability to invest in dedicated infrastructure”.

From the report:

Half of construction firms said Australian broadband infrastructure was inadequate. One survey respondent complained of “very unreliable internet” just one hour out of Newcastle.

“The exchange we run off is disgraceful and is constantly having issues and lengthy dropouts – sometimes up to 3 weeks in this industrial estate,” the respondent wrote.

Another complained: “We are currently paying $3,500 a month for a pathetic service … There also is no strategy that we have been able to identify regarding the broadband rollout. We are deferring employing staff due to the lack of infrastructure in Morpeth and the local area.”

Across all sectors, about 63% of businesses said Australian telecommunications infrastructure was “always” or “generally” adequate, with larger businesses more likely to be satisfied with their services.

The Ai Group called for the government to prioritise rolling out the NBN to poorly served businesses and industrial estates in outer suburban and regional areas, and provide “affordable access” to fibre-to-the-premise services for businesses that desire it.

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