Conferences, Proceedings of the 3rd National Local Government Research Forum

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Local public broadband – the missing link in Australia's broadband debate?
Ian McShane

Last modified: 2013-10-23


The role of local government in providing public broadband has received little attention in Australian policy debate over broadband futures. The marginal position of the Australian local government sector in broadband debates both understates local initiatives and constrains our understanding of broadband as twenty-first century civic infrastructure. Local authorities provide Australia’s public internet safety net through their funding of public internet in local libraries. There is a history of experimentation with local networks in underserved regions. Several city governments, including Adelaide, are investigating public Wi-Fi networks to boost social and economic vitality, and assist with urban management. Yet, Australia lags behind many other countries in providing broadband as a local public good. Drawing on international and Australian developments in local public broadband, this paper analyses rationales, opportunities and constraints for Australian local authorities in this field.

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