Conroy launches new site to convince businesses of NBN benefits

Communications minister Stephen Conroy has released a new website featuring tools to help businesses go online, as part of the Government’s campaign to convince businesses of the economic benefits of the National Broadband Network.

The launch comes merely days after the Government trumpeted the release of an Access Economics report that argued the NBN would deliver a substantial boost to GDP, and provide new resources for businesses.

But Council of Small Businesses of Australia chief executive Peter Strong says while the site is a good initiative for small businesses, he says it will need to be advertised more – and that December was not a particularly good time to launch the site.

Conroy said yesterday businesses and organisations need to understand how to use the internet in order to reach new customers.

He also said the site provides “practical guidance for small businesses and community organisations to establish and enhance an online presence so they can expand their customer base and increase productivity”.

The site, digitalbusiness.gov.au, provides information on a number of topics including how to start a website, how to begin selling products over the internet and how to engage in social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Conroy said the site replaces the eBusiness and eStrategy websites, which were developed in 2004 and 2006.

But the site is clearly a push for the National Broadband Network, with Conroy announcing the launch of the site at Wilunga, South Australia – one of the first testing areas for the NBN on the mainland.

“The community has demonstrated its enthusiasm for the NBN, with 84% of people signing up to have fibre connected to their home and I’m pleased to be launching this new website from Willunga,” Conroy said.

“The rollout of the National Broadband Network will also deliver every home and business with affordable high speed broadband and it’s crucial for people to have the skills to take advantage of it.”

The Government is attempting to convince businesses of the benefits of the NBN, given so many of the arguments for the rollout depend on an actual economic contribution. Last week, Conroy launched an Access Economics report which argued take-up of the NBN by businesses would add to GDP.

The survey finds that Australian businesses will be able to “compete better” and expand their coverage as a result of the NBN – and it also finds may be significant macroeconomic benefits from doing so.

Strong says this approach is fine, but the Government should do more to market these types of materials among small businesses, many of which don’t have the time or resources to investigate these types of technologies on their own.

“They need to work closely with business to promote this type of material. Getting it out there is a challenge given the nature of small business, and finding the time to do it and read the information is a big problem.”

“There are a lot of businesses looking to go online for a number of reasons, and one of them is to save money. That’s one of the primary ways the businesses can go about showing the benefits of this – to save money.”

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