Communities across the Illawarra are set to embrace the National Broadband Network rollout, as it seeks to change industries and impact people from all walks of life.

The NBN, which will connect 93% of premises across the region to a high-speed fibre network, provides speeds up to 100 times faster than what is currently available.

The NBN will also assist the South Coast with creating technology-based solutions in the areas of health, education, business and more.

Mayor of Kiama, Sandra McCarthy has stressed the benefits already being enjoyed by the community and the need for others to immediately recognise the NBN’s potential.

“It will benefit all Australians. It’s very important that households connect and businesses use this technology,” she said.

Kiama Municipal Council will aim to promote health equity through e-health initiatives on the NBN.

Having worked hand-in-hand with Kiama Nursing Home, and alongside other medical organisations, Mayor McCarthy recognised the opportunities for advancements in medical technology as one of the most exciting aspects of the NBN.

The NBN will see videoconference technology installed in nursing homes, the return of a popular online mental health program for students, and the set up of a support system for regional and rural psychologists.

“[It will] encourage social contact and a strong sense of belonging in the community,” said Mayor McCarthy.

“When you see the smiles on the faces of these people, you will know it is a good thing for mental health.”

With the potential to transform the health industry, the NBN also carries the ability to transform the economy, education and the learning experience.

University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wellings believes the network allows for the university to sustain substantial relationships with important economies worldwide.

“It provides the mobility of students to study in study-abroad programs,” said Vice-Chancellor Wellings.

As well as increasing the capability for distance education, the NBN will aim to address social and educational inequalities.

“Typically a 15-year-old in regional areas will be one and a half years behind metropolitan students, due to the issue of access,” he said.

“We should celebrate the NBN coming to our community.”

The benefits of the NBN for higher education are being celebrated across multiple platforms: advocates for the network include the university and Kiama TAFE, as well as free access and training being provided by Kiama Community College and Kiama Library.

“People just love to brag that they’ve used the system, but you’d be surprised by some of the attraction we’ve had to the network, particularly from disabled groups learning to use it,” says Kiama librarian Tim Atkinson.

Beyond government funding and free community initiatives, the NBN will also mean good things for those paying for the network use.

Symbio Networks, General Manager of Sales, Jon Cleaver says the technology industry have been able to use the network seamlessly, and believes it will guarantee constant access the web, benefiting business and consumers alike.

“Businesses will reduce costs, prices will go down for customers, with faster connection speeds for everyone. It’s a win-win,” he says.

Words: Hayley Corkin
Photography: Tanya Dendrinos
Video: Ewen McCarroll

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