The Supply and Use of Broadband in Rural Australia: An Explanatory Case Study of the Western Downs Region

Keywords: Broadband infrastructure, broadband services, rural Australia, technology use and satisfaction


This 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.

Author Biographies

Michael Steven Lane, University of Southern Queensland

Dr Michael Lane is a senior lecturer in Information Systems, School of Management and Enterprise, USQ. He holds a PhD in Information Systems from the University of Southern Queensland. He has published research on IT Leadership, Mobile Computing, Information Security and IT Infrastructure including broadband in high quality international journals and conferences. His research on broadband includes the role of telecommunications markets and government policy in the delivery of broadband infrastructure, and the adoption and use of broadband services in rural Australia. 

Sanjib Tiwari, University of Southern Queensland

Sanjib Tiwari is a PhD student at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) funded through Australian Government's Collaborative Research Networks (CRN) program. Sanjib has a Bachelor of Engineering (IT) from West Bengal University of Technology, a Master in Information Systems and a Master of Business Research from University of Southern Queensland. His Research interests include Broadband Adoption and Use, Digital Divide, ICT4D, Community Informatics, Privacy, Security and Trust in Social Networking Sites. 

Khorshed Alam, University of Southern Queensland

Khorshed Alam is an Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Commerce at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. He holds a PhD in Environmental Economics from Murdoch University and a Masters in Economics from the Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands. He has published numerous article in high impact journals on issues related to development, digital economy, innovation and the environment, with a particular focus on policy aspects. His current projects are funded through Federal and local government agencies.

How to Cite
Lane, M. S., Tiwari, S., & Alam, K. (2016). The Supply and Use of Broadband in Rural Australia: An Explanatory Case Study of the Western Downs Region. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 20.
Research on Rural and Remote ICT