High-speed internet critical: Town boss

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph

The Town of Port Hedland’s chief executive says residents need access to super-fast broadband internet access beyond National Broadband Network speeds.

His comments were made during the local government CEO panel session at the Pilbara Economic Development Conference in Perth late last month, as he revealed the Town was prepared to talk to Government and Google to roll out one gigabit high-speed internet.

NBN offers different speeds depending on what is available in the area.

Regional Chambers of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive Kitty Prodonovich, who was MC at the panel, asked Mr Pentz about high-speed internet at the forum, labelling broadband and internet speeds as the “No. 1 issue” across regional WA.

Construction of the fixed-line NBN network is starting to roll out in parts of Port Hedland, South Hedland and Wedgefield, with more than 9000 homes expected to be connected to the network.

But Mr Pentz said the speeds were a critical issue and more was needed to facilitate small and home-based businesses.

“We’ve got NBN being rolled out but it needs to be more than that,” he said.

“We need to be talking about one- gig high-speed competitors, talking about true diversification.”

Ms Prodonovich said more West Australians were heading in the direction of starting their own home-based businesses.

“There’s 218,000 small home businesses in Western Australia and we know that home-based and micro businesses are the largest growth within the business sector,” she said.

“If we’ve got that internet access and high speed, that’s how we’re going to facilitate it.”

Speaking after the conference, Port Hedland Chamber of Commerce president Jim Henneberry said it was important to have the best world-leading connectivity in an isolated community.

“We have so many drop-outs in this town ... it’s pathetic,” he said.

“If we cannot communicate with our customers and the world and compete on a world basis, then that distracts people from staying here.”

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