Residents of regional Australia who are connected to the National Broadband Network are 40 per cent more likely to use the internet to combat social isolation than those who don’t have access to the nbn, according to a study being released today.
The Connecting Australia report, commissioned by NBN Co, compared users of the high-speed network in regional and metropolitan areas with those who weren’t connected to the nbn.
The report said those with access to the nbn in regional Australia were 40 per cent more likely to use the internet to fight social isolation than non nbn users, while people on the nbn in metropolitan areas were 30 per cent more likely.
There were no specific figures available for the Newcastle/Hunter region. But at a national level, the report found people connected to the nbn were 30 per cent more likely to use the internet to stay in touch with loved ones – 10 hours a week – compared with non nbn users – seven hours a week.
“Social isolation is shrinking, in particular for regional Australians, and I am delighted to see evidence of the nbn broadband access network helping people right across our beautiful country to strengthen their relationships with their loved ones, their communities and the world,” nbn CEO Stephen Rue said.
Data-analytics firm AlphaBeta used information from the 2016 Census and a national Ipsos survey for the report, which described the findings as a “statistical baseline to measure the impending impact of Australia’s digital transformation over the years and decades ahead”.
The report noted 94 per cent of people connected to the nbn in regional Australia in 2017 used the internet to “socialise with family, friends and community”, compared with 68 per cent of regional non nbn users.
The gap was not as wide in metro areas, where 96 per cent of people connected to the nbn used the internet to socialise, compared with 76 per cent of non nbn users.
Read more: nbn Local not so local
“It’s promising to see how access to fast broadband can help reduce social isolation across the country, which is particularly critical for older Australians and those living in regional and remote areas,” federal eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said.
“Improved connectivity can help drive digital inclusion and enable those who are geographically isolated to more easily access vital services, connect with family and friends, and improve their online confidence, skills and safety.”
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