Opportunities for rural businesses from better broadband services 16 May 2011

A new research report released today by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) has highlighted how access to high quality broadband can lead to significant opportunities for rural industries. 

The report, New Connections Driving Innovation and Productivity, looked at six businesses in rural Tasmania who use broadband services, and analysed the impact broadband is having on their information and communications capabilities. 

“Access to high quality broadband is a significant opportunity for rural industries,” RIRDC Managing Director Craig Burns said.

“Farmers are increasingly utilising communications technology in their businesses for decision making and to run their farms.  It is helping them to improve their management and communication with business service providers, customers and networks.

“This report provides a detailed insight into the successes, challenges and future opportunities high speed internet can provide innovative rural businesses.

“According to the report, even a basic broadband service can deliver significant benefits for rural businesses to help drive innovative new practices, regardless of their industry or regional location.”

For example:

  • Huon Aquaculture Group is able to connect its hatcheries, marine farms, processing plants and supporting offices all across Tasmania and throughout the mainland;

  • Hansen Orchards can access a range of detailed farm management data online which enables them to make more timely decisions and manage operations remotely when travelling;

  • Premium Fresh has implemented an automated barcoding system of their vegetables crates, enabling them to keep better track of their goods.

Mr Burns said the report also identified a number of challenges rural businesses face maximising the potential benefits of broadband services, including accessing competitive internet services, and having a good level of in-house IT expertise.

“The report points out that from a policy perspective, one of the key challenges is to provide a level of certainty about the type and quantity of service that can be provided in the short and medium term,” he said. 

Mr Burns added that the reports also points to further research that needs to be undertaken in the field to maximise the benefits that flow from  broadband related technologies. 

New Connections Driving Innovation and Productivity is available for free download or purchase from the RIRDC website