Benefits of the National Broadband Network

I spoke in parliament yesterday about the recent laying of National Broadband Network cables in Palmerston, and the benefits of the NBN for health, education and business.
Benefits of the National Broadband Network, 9 October 2012

Last week Senator Kate Lundy and I attended the laying of the distribution fibre cable in Palmerston, in my electorate of Fraser. NBN Co. forecast that construction should be complete in the central business district of Gungahlin and nearby suburbs by the end of the year. Homes and businesses in Gungahlin are now one step closer to connecting to the National Broadband Network and being able to access faster, more affordable and more reliable broadband. This will not only boost internet speeds but also strengthen the local community.

One example of where the NBN is strengthening community is in the lives of those suffering from a chronic health condition. In New South Wales, Hunter Nursing is using the National Broadband Network to remotely monitor the health of patients suffering from one or more chronic diseases. A trial of 50 high-risk patients using an in-patient home device with an online interface enabled them to have their health monitored in their own home by health professionals. Through high-speed broadband, patients and carers were able to use their device to access monitoring equipment and communicate with health professionals via video-conferencing and email. The benefit of this was that patients enjoyed one-to-one care in the comfort of their own homes. They could monitor their own health status and they could maintain their independence.

Ann Maree Battersby, one of the nurses who participated in the trial, commented:

'It gives [patients] increased security; they feel they have access to the nurse without having the nurse physically visit them in their home.'

Sally Bradley, granddaughter and carer for one of the patients in the trial, said:

‘The main benefit for us is in letting my grandmother still live at home and maintain her independence.’

This kind of innovative application of technology assists those living with chronic illness in the Fraser electorate. The Gillard government has provided over $1 million to the ACT Gallagher government to ensure that NBN services are available in the Gungahlin community as soon as the rollout is complete.

In July this year I was pleased to announce the Gillard government had already provided $360,000 to the ACT government for NBN services that would put people in touch with local government. When the project comes online Gungahlin residents will be able to engage with ACT Legislative Assembly members and government officials via interactive video platforms. The project will also provide the necessary infrastructure for new online services and forums as the NBN is rolled out.

Personally I am also excited about the opportunities the NBN opens up in education. Superfast broadband will enable students to video link with schools overseas, share classroom experiences and learn other languages in real time. For students using facilities in the Gungahlin library the NBN will mean the quality is similar to watching a DVD. I am an optimist who believes in the power of innovation and technology to meet today's challenges and to seize tomorrow's opportunities.

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