Technology has had a significant and profound influence on Australian society. Technology has provided access to information, automation of processes, and organisation of business and social activities. An associated trend is new knowledge creation and its exploitation to drive value creation, productivity, and economic growth. Broadband is an enabling technology that fulfils a key role in connecting consumers and business to the online economy. As a result, broadband is fast becoming a key element of critical national infrastructure. In fact, it is argued that broadband will very soon become the ‘next great utility’ after roads, water, electricity and gas.
The Australian Government recognises that ubiquitous, multi-megabit broadband will underpin Australia’s future economic and social prosperity. In 2001 Accenture estimated that next generation broadband could produce economic benefits of $12–30 billion per annum to Australia . These gains are a result of technology making processes more timely, increasing access to information, supporting online transactions, opening up opportunities for more flexible work practices and creating new areas of economic activity.