Mr Rue said that NBN Co is supporting a basic low-cost NBN data product.
âBut we also have to consider that the success of a sustainable, low-income offering depends on much more than just NBN Co,â he said.
âOf course, it’s not something we can achieve on our own. This will require ongoing dialogue and collaboration between industry, consumer groups, and state and federal governments. “
The McKell Institute’s research was sponsored by Telstra – who has conceded that he lowered his premium internet speed without cutting prices – and the Queensland Social Services Council.
Bridging Queensland’s Digital Divide showed the Queenslanders outside the densely populated southeast corner were falling behind.
He explained in detail how Queensland ranked fifth, and lagged behind other states, in terms of providing appropriate digital technology to the state.
Bridging Queensland’s Growing Digital Divide 2021
- Queensland has a poor digital accessibility rating.
- Digital exclusion is strongly linked to income.
- People living in Northwest Queensland are the least likely to use the internet for a complex range of tasks other than texting, Google search, and social media.
- Residents of the Queensland coast spend a relatively high proportion of their income on digital services, compared to people living in SEQ.
- The digital income inclusion gap is larger today than it was in 2014.
- In Queensland, Interior Brisbane is the most digitally active region, while North West Queensland is the least digitally active region.
- The biggest problem is “the cost of data,” a survey by the Queensland Council of Social Service found.
- QCOSS data reveals that people in Queensland are simply going without digital technology when they can’t afford data plans.
Source: McKell Institute: Bridging Queensland Digital Divide Report, September 2021.
McKell Institute executive director Rachel Nolan – a former minister in the Queensland Labor government – said widening digital exclusion was having an impact on already marginalized residents.
“The Queensland Council of Social Service surveyed its member organizations and found that 76% of people who accessed their services simply did without when they couldn’t afford data plans.” , she said.
Ms Nolan said the promise of digital technology does not raise living standards in the same way in the state or in Australia.
âAs economic, civic and social life evolves more and more online, there are many, many people who cannot afford it, or who have the skills, and are being left behind,â he said. she declared.
“If this is not resolved, digital technology becomes a driver of exclusion, not inclusion, and social dislocation.”
The McKell Institute has recommended that the Queensland government transform public libraries and community centers into digital access centers.
Ms Nolan and Queensland Council of Social Service executive director Amy McVeigh called on the government-owned NBN to offer discounted data plans to people receiving government benefits.
Mr Rue said research from the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network‘s annual conference showed Australian broadband to be “relatively affordable”.
“This research, which was commissioned by NBN and conducted by Accenture, shows that in a comparison of 13 OECD countries, Australia experienced the largest improvement in affordability between fiscal 2018 and fiscal year 20, and ranks sixth in all comparable speed levels. “
Ms McVeigh warned that digital exclusion was “armed” by perpetrators of domestic violence against women.
âThey know that women cannot access the services they need to be safe,â said Ms. McVeigh.
âDigital exclusion has quite dire consequences for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people. “
Ms Nolan and Ms McVeigh also called on the Queensland government to develop ‘a 10 year roadmap’ to improve digital services in regional Queensland.