Senator Stephen Conroy catching up with Advocate editor Graeme Singleton and general manager Brent Rees.
Senator Stephen Conroy catching up with Advocate editor Graeme Singleton and general manager Brent Rees. Rob Wright

Businesses ready for NBN

JANISON, Greenspan Technologies and the Coffs Coast Advocate are among the Coffs Coast companies looking forward to the speed and power the National Broadband Network will put at their fingertips in the next three years.

Janison is an e-learning software company, Greenspan is the environmental solutions company and the Coffs Coast Advocate is the company behind this website. All these companies are anxious to be among the first to join the NBN.

Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, was in town yesterday to launch Coffs Harbour City Council's Switched on Coffs digital strategy.

Senator Conroy said 27,800 premises would be connected to the NBN in the Coffs Harbour rollout which was under way and it was important that people had the skills and confidence for it.

He said the NBN would support existing and potential small and medium-sized enterprises and encourage other businesses to relocate to the area.

He emphasised the network's importance in creating a more equal and inclusive society right across Australia.

Senator Conroy said he used to be a councillor on Footscray Council and recalled 200 people storming the council over a dog park. He said the prospect of a more responsive and transparent local government was "pretty scary".

Nevertheless, he said the proposed new Switched On Coffs TV digital channels would allow residents to report and feed back to the council.

The proposed Centre of Open Learning and Business (COLAB) would create a business hub for demonstrations, training, support, services and connectivity.

The strategy was created by community regeneration expert Dr Tim Williams with the council, business, educators, health interests, the creative industry and the wider community.

It includes six Switched On Coffs TV channels and the COLAB and strategies to provide easier and more direct digital communication between council and residents.

The proposed channels are Lifestyle, Community, Youth, Business, Creative and Engage - a channel to put forward ideas and contribute to decision-making.

Council community liaison officer Damon Leach said the system was similar to Facebook but secure. It provided for uploading of documents and film; allowed people to communicate with each other and linked to other websites. It could only be used by real people using their real names.

The strategy also includes a number of digital champions, including former mayor Jenny Bonfield who represented the Mayor at Friday's launch.

Cr Bonfield described herself as a digital dinosaur before taking on the role, but told of her journey of discovery.

Other council digital champions are Cr Paul Templeton who works in IT and environmental consultant Cr Mark Graham. They are joined by business and community digital champions including Advocate editor, Graeme Singleton.

Young photographer, web designer and filmmaker Dan Stewart was presented with the Huawei Australia Switched On Coffs Creative Scholarship by Huawei's director of corporate affairs, Jeremy Mitchell yesterday. Dan will use the $30,000 scholarship to fund a Diploma of Photo Imaging with a Bachelor of Photography.

He will appreciate the NBN - now it takes him 19 hours to upload a short film.

Wayne Houlden said a feature of Coffs Harbour which attracted him and his wife, Jacqui, to open Janison here in 2000 was the availability of ADSL broadband, which gave them a connection 10 times faster than previously and the capability to grow; they now used 100 times the speed of 10 years ago but in 10 years they would need 100 times today's speed.

The Janison Service Centre at Coffs Harbour Jetty was opened by Senator Conroy, attended by a large crowd of local government, business and education and media representatives.

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