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Connectivity key to unlocking future value

By Stephen Barnard, Growcom Ceo
May 1 2022 - 12:00am
Connectivity solutions long overdue

We all easily understand the significance of investing in dams, pipelines, roads, rail, sea and airports. They're the channels by which both goods move into our regions and our products go to market.

We attach meaning to these pieces of infrastructure, to the point any announcement of building any more of it attracts a horde of politicians with shiny shovels all looking to turn a sod.

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It's not that these pieces of infrastructure aren't important to the future prosperity of our regions, quite the opposite. They are not, however, the only show in town.

Our regional telecommunications infrastructure arguably suffers simply from being less visible relative these other traditional pieces of infrastructure. And yet huge future value can be unlocked through greater investment in connectivity now.

Economic modelling has found that adoption of digital agriculture can add an estimated $20.3 billion to farm output, and lift the Australian economy by an estimated 1.5 per cent by 2030. These are huge numbers.

And a key constraint to the adoption of agtech solutions of today and tomorrow are the communications networks they rely on.

Before the federal election campaign started, Growcom had been hearing from growers and other supply chain partners around the state about what their strategic priorities are to secure the future prosperity of the Queensland fresh produce sector.

From this feedback we've identified four future fields, or areas of strategic interest, to be pursued through Future Fields, a new strategic plan for the sector to be launched in early June.

They include better capturing and sharing of pest and disease surveillance data, tools to streamline meeting compliance requirements, producing new shelf-stable products regionally, and adopting new labour-saving tools and technologies.

Realising the opportunities in each of these four fields will require much better connectivity. Like planting a tree, the best time to make an investment in telecommunications infrastructure was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

This is why Growcom supports the commitment sought by the NFF of the next federal government, to invest $5 billion in an enduring Regional, Rural and Remote Telecommunications Fund, directed by an independent committee of regional representatives to resource ongoing network improvement and expansion.

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