Broadband Issues Affecting Not for Profits?
15 July 2002 at 1:07 pm
The Federal Government’s Broadband Advisory Group (BAG) is seeking public comment on broadband issues as it affects key stakeholders including industry, state governments, and members of the public – so does this affect those in the Not for Profit Sector?
If the BAG is looking for comments based on its Terms of Reference then the sector should take a closer look.
The BAG’s role is to assist the Government to ensure that its broadband policy framework optimises the economic and social benefits that Australia derives from broadband services. The BAG will provide a vehicle for fostering communication between stakeholders on both the supply-side and demand-side of the broadband issue.
For the Not for Profit sector there are particular areas of interest such as:
Appropriate ways to measure broadband take-up and success;
Current impediments to, and likely drivers of, broadband take-up, particularly in key sectors such as small business, education, health and community services;
Issues that are likely to emerge as the Australian broadband market develops.
Already there is valuable discussion within the sector.
This month’s conference on “Electronic Networks – Building Community 2002” went some way to discussing the broadband issues.
Dr. Gerard Goggin, from the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies at the University of Queensland delivered a paper on whether or not new broadband technologies are flowing evenly to all Australians
Dr. Goggin told the conference that electronic community networking is a global movement with considerable potential to promote participation, social justice, economic betterment, communication and diverse cultural practices among members of the multiple and overlapping communities we inhabit.
He said that laudable as these aims are, they are significantly dependent on ubiquitous, affordable and accessible telecommunications networks.
His paper outlined the relationship between community networking and telecommunications via a consideration of rural telecommunications in Australia.
He told the conference the Australian telecommunications reforms, which culminated in the 1997 Telecommunications Act, have provided a framework of ‘open competition.’ In theory, a complex set of legislative and regulatory arrangements provide guarantees that all Australians will have equitable access to telecommunications.
However he said in practice there are serious concerns about lack of access for many low-income, marginalised, city-fringe and rurally-located Australians.
Dr. Goggin said it may come as little surprise that the benefits of telecommunications competition and new broadband technologies are not flowing evenly to all.
He said perhaps less understood are some of the effects of this policy cul-de-sac on many communities, not least in rural Australia. The market has been very slow to provide broadband telecommunications to rural Australia, and there has been a tacit expectation on the part of policy-makers that each affected community will organise itself in order to attract the technology providers needed – a not insubstantial community networking exercise in its own right.
Dr. Goggin has been published widely in telecommunications, Internet and new media studies, and taught media studies at Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia, from 1999-2001. With Christopher Newell, he has a forthcoming book, Digital Disability: The Social Construction of Disability in New Media (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002)
(More on the Electronic Networks- Building Community 2002 Conference in upcoming editions of Pro Bono Australia).
The BAG is chaired by the Commonwealth Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston. Members of the Group are: Bronte Adams, Ros Hill, Tom Kennedy, George McLaughlin, Mike Miller, Rosemary Sinclair, Phil Singleton, Ziggy Switkowski, Jeffrey Tobias and Terry Walsh.
Submissions must be lodged with the BAG Secretariat by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 August 2002.
Alternatively submissions can be lodged by mail to the BAG Secretariat National Office for the Information Economy, (NOIE) GPO Box 390, Canberra ACT 2601 to be received no later than 12 August 2002.
Mail submissions should consist of three (3) copies of documents in Word 97 or compatible format, plus an electronic version on diskette or CD-ROM. Submissions will be published on the BAG website unless the Secretariat receives a request for confidentiality.
Further information can be obtained by calling Amanda Brown, BAG Secretariat on (02) 6271 1772.