Opinion

Small town disadvantage

by
February 09, 2018

Poor mobile connectivity in regional areas in the modern day is concerning and should be treated as an urgent issue.

The impacts of not having what many areas of Australia take for granted as a given — a 21st century level of mobile connectivity — are many and varied.

The simplest of these is ensuring that people continue to want to live in small towns such as Katandra West and Katunga, observed to have endured well below-par connectivity for a long time now.

The lack of an adequate mobile service does nothing to encourage people to remain living in these areas and as business and social connectivity ever shifts online, they fall further behind.

Insufficient connectivity furthermore does nothing to create opportunities for businesses to develop in these areas.

In this way, the future of small towns to some degree depends on the provision of even basic mobile connectivity.

In areas such as Katunga, it may impact the ability of farms to modernise and deploy current-day technologies.

This puts them at a clear competitive disadvantage.

The confidence and livability of small towns too depends on such infrastructure.

It will prove nigh on impossible to even consider the prospect of working from home in these areas.

But the most serious concern of all, as State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed highlighted in parliament this week, is the potential for poor connectivity to impact on the ability of authorities to respond to an emergency.

Moving forward, there is every likelihood that online and mobile connectivity will be as important to areas in the 21st century as physical connections through roads and rail were through the 20th century.

Whichever tier of government is better placed to provide funding for small towns such as these to secure adequate connectivity should take this on.

Just so long as they appreciate that if towns such as Katandra West and Katunga want to be able to prosper into the 21st century, they need 21st century connectivity.

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