Fast Broadband, Software, Multi-media
Tasmania was set for major growth in the Information and Communications Technology sector when it became the first State or territory to benefit from the roll-out of Australia's new national broadbank network (NBN) in 2009. Work on ultra high-speed fibre-to-premises and wireless services was scheduled to begin within months of the Federal Government announcement ,creating a significant competitive advantage for local businesses.
Before this breakthrough, the Tasmanian ICT sector had earned an estimated $1.2 billion annually and employed 2,800 people. The sector had been growing at 5 per cent in Tasmania, well ahead of the national growth rate of about 1 per cent. Despite relatively low broadband speeds, businesses in the sector were delivering a dazzling array of services. If you needed, for example, on-line photo processing, paint-marketing software, assistance with Internet marketing, Web design or cutting-edge educational software you could find a Tasmanian business with ideal capabilities. The sector is constantly diversifying and is now looking forward to boom times.
Government programs played a part in the sector's establishment. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism manages a $40-million Intelligent Island program that makes funding available to selected businesses to stimulate higher rates of long-term sustainable growth. In the north, a five-year Launceston Broadband Project had a significant impact on the developmental phase of several successful businesses.
Intelligent Island funds have been allocated to establish a Tasmanian ICT Centre ($15 million) and to fund a Market Access and Partnership Program ($18 million) that provides grants to enable small to medium businesses to develop and commercialise their products. CSIRO has committed to match the state’s investment in the Tasmanian ICT Centre and is operating the centre for a five-year period with an objective of developing a world-class research capability. Activity is focussed initially on sensor networks, data management and robotics.
The Tasmanian Government engages with the sector through an IT Industry Council.