Encouraging and managing population growth is crucial to the success of the Moorabool Shire. Communications infrastructure is one component that has been identified as a principle component in future success.
The Growing Moorabool Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan identified the need to lobby for improved telecommunications, specifically in relation to supporting industry, commerce and the home based business sector. Anecdotal evidence from the business community and residents suggested that the Moorabool Shire was falling behind metropolitan Melbourne and the State of Victoria in terms of its ability to access broadband services. A community well-being report prepared by MapData Sciences Pty 2007 verified this information.
In regards to access to broadband services, residents, commerce and industry in the Moorabool Shire are disadvantaged. Overcoming broadband access issues at the local level, and indeed the state level, will contribute to greater economic prosperity, health and well-being of communities as well as retention of commerce and industry. In the particular case of the Moorabool Shire the growing demand for both residential and industrial land requires that broadband infrastructure be able to also meet that demand.
Lateral Plains and the Centre for eCommerce and Communications were engaged to undertake a study with the following objectives:
- Assess the demand for communications infrastructure to a standard equivalent to that enjoyed by metropolitan Melbourne.
- In assessing demand, particular attention is to be given to the pent up demand for services that require metropolitan equivalent communication infrastructure.
- Examine issues that inhibit the supplying of services to meet demand.
- Identify whether or not the demand and supply issues experienced in Moorabool Shire Council are likely to be similar throughout the state, are they generic issues, issues restricted to peri-urban areas or specific to Moorabool Shire?
- In the light of the study findings, examine the consequences for Moorabool Shire and the State.
- Provide a detailed action plan addressing local, state and federal government responsibilities and desired actions.
- Recommend actions to overcome the issues identified and future proofing for commerce, industry and residential.
More specifically the study addressed the following:
- Brief overview of the policy environment in relation to the communications sector nationally and regionally.
- Brief overview of the commercial market for communications infrastructure.
- Current status of communication infrastructure in Moorabool shire in comparison to neighbouring areas and metropolitan Melbourne to include:
- Mapping services.
- Cost of providing services and their upgrade to the standard available in metropolitan Melbourne.
- Barriers to improvement to include:
- Specific costs of improvements to the present services
- Specific issues that relate to Moorabool Shire given topography and proximity to other urban areas.
- Identification of service providers operating throughout the Shire to include:
- Comparison of services and the cost.
- Assessment of demand and in particular pent up demand for telecommunications services at shire and township levels focussing on the business community.
- Specific examples of investment that is constrained by the lack of suitable communications infrastructure.
- Broadly review the extent of social exclusion that is occurring in the local area specifically related to a lack of suitable communications infrastructure provision and the cost of accessing services.
- Propose actions in the light of the study findings.
- Evaluate actions and recommend a detailed action framework applicable to all 3 tiers of government
The study commenced in April 2009 and concluded in April 2010.