The DHS pilot demonstrates what the Government believes will be available once the NBN is rolled out nationally.
Senator Conroy cited a BCG report which said that the continued progression to a digital economy could deliver an additional $20 billion to the Australian economy over the next four years.
Given that he said that it was; “A little disappointing that the Opposition still don’t get it.” He derided Opposition claims that 25 Mbps download speeds were adequate for Australian businesses.
“The (digital economy) strategy’s bedrock is to get more households and businesses online,” he said, adding that the National Broadband Network, which is slated to offer download speeds of 100 Mbps was necessary for a proper transition to a digital economy.
To seed demand for NBN enabled services the government has been piloting a series of initiatives including telehealth, e-education and government programmes. It has also rolled out seven digital hub centres, with another 33 to be opened by the end of the year, which provide information and education to small businesses in particular about the introduction of “high speed affordable broadband.”
The Government has also started a television campaign in regional Australia showing how early adopters of NBN based services are reaping rewards.
In terms of other government initiatives telehealth featured strongly. Senator Conroy said that since the introduction of the Medicare rebate number for videoconference based consultations more than 15,000 claims had been made with about 3 per cent of all medical specialists now offering a telehealth service.
He said that the Government was now reviewing the latest batch of applications for new telehealth pilots which were received last week.
Senator Conroy was also keen to promote the economic benefits of NBN enabled telework claiming that if 10 per cent of Australian employees teleworked for 50 per cent of their working life, it would deliver fuel savings of $160 million. He said that 74 organisations had signed up to a Government programme to promote telework.