The Supply and Use of Broadband in Rural Australia: An Explanatory Case Study of the Western Downs Region
AbstractThis research seeks to provide an understanding of broadband infrastructure supply and its relationship with household broadband use and satisfaction in rural Australia through an explanatory case study of the Western Downs Region (WDR). The Broadband Ecosystem provided a comprehensive framework for examining broadband infrastructure supply and household use and satisfaction with broadband services. Publicly available data was used to map the coverage of broadband access technologies in WDR. A large scale survey assessed household use and satisfaction with broadband services available in WDR. Our findings indicate that rural regions such as WDR are highly reliant on wireless broadband which is more variable in reliability and less affordable comparative to wired broadband. Our findings also indicate that household dissatisfaction with wireless broadband services is particularly evident in remote and outer regional areas. This suggests that the lack of reliable and affordable wireless broadband services with adequate data quotas are a real barrier to rural communities such as the WDR actively participating in a digital future. This study provided a number of important contributions. The broadband ecosystem provided a comprehensive framework for understanding the complex problem of broadband access in rural Australia by analysing two units of analysis, broadband infrastructure (supply) and broadband use and satisfaction (demand). Broadband infrastructure is an important and under-researched area in information systems. Future government policy needs to ensure that access to reliable and high speed broadband services is part of its universal service obligation so that the current shortcomings in broadband infrastructure in rural Australia will be prioritised and addressed. We believe this will require a commitment from future Governments to facilitate both public and private investment in broadband infrastructure in rural Australia.
Copyright (c) 2016 Michael Steven Lane, Sanjib Tiwari, Khorshed Alam
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