We believe that the Internet is a natural progression. First there was the phone, then the fax and now we are on the verge of the Internet age. We believe that country towns and their communities need to embrace this idea and show their towns off to a worldwide audience.
The use and effectiveness of the Internet for a rural community will depend on their goals and plans for the future. If they are trying to increase their potential audience or reduce the effect of the large Australian distances, then the Internet is ideal..
The main economic benefits (of Internet usage) to non-metropolitan Australia will arise from businesses taking advantage of the location-independent possibilities created by the Internet to operate on a more global basis (Rin and Groves 1999)
Or to put it more simply we can say that….
the Internet overcomes the “Tyranny of Distance”
Farmers are amongst Australia’s keenest Internet users despite poor access and line speeds in many areas. In a recent survey we found that the farmers are most interested in using the Internet to obtain market information and to have the ability to be involved in the area of e-commerce.
Internet use by Australian farmers is among the highest in the world. This usage is largely for business purposes, mainly in the area of information gathering. Other areas such as electronic commerce, Internet banking and education and training are set to grow substantially (Rin and Groves 1999).
Reports show that the younger a farmers is the more likely he/she is to use the Internet. An American report showed that young farmers in between the ages 18-35 used the Internet at a rate of 77.2%. This rate is in comparison to the national average of 43%.
The statistics about what percentage of the population using the Internet varies depending on the source, location and time, of the report on which the article is based.
Statistics that we have gained from the ABS 1999:
- 49% of Australia’s 147,160 farms were using a computer in March 1999 (growing 26% each year)
- 1 in 5 farms connected to the Internet (growing 90% each year)
- Development of communities on the basis of interest and not necessarily regional areas – The Internet gives people of various interest groups the opportunity to communicate with people of similar interests, even if they are hundreds of kilometres away. An example of this is www.countryrugby.com.au where 157 teams from throughout NSW use this site to communicate and discuss their interest in this area.
- Improved community involvement – Internet event diaries and bulletin board will allow all members of the community to be aware of what is occurring in their neighbourhood and how they can be involved. An example of this is the Devonport site that can be found at www.devonport.tco.asn.au.
- Increase tourism – The Internet can give you the opportunity to let people know what they can expect when visiting your town and what they can do when they get there. An example of such a site is www.rivers.com.au/ballarat.htm.
- Improved professional opportunities within the town – The Internet can reduce the problem of distance, for example through telecentres, giving people the opportunity to live in your town and still communicate those from the major metropolitan areas. An example can be found at http://www.beechworth.com/
The number of suppliers of Internet access has continued to grow each year. We are unable to list all of these however we have listed a few, which can supply different packages that you might find of use.
- Telstra – www.telstra.com
- WinNet – www.winnet.com.au
- Global Freeway – www.globalfreeway.com.au
There are a growing number of different funding opportunities available to rural areas. The following are the two which we find most relevant to rural towns connecting to the Internet. They are however not the only funds available.
- Networking the Nation (www.dcita.gov.au/rtif.html)
Networking the Nation is a Commonwealth program with funding of $250 million over five years from 1 July 1997. It supports activities and projects designed to meet a range of telecommunications needs in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Rural Transaction Centres (www.dotrs.gov.au/rtc)
The Government has committed up to $70 million over 5 years to help rural communities establish their own rural transaction centres (RTCs). It is expected that the RTCs will provide access to basic private and government transaction services such as personal banking, some business banking, postal services, Medicare Easyclaim, phone and fax.
Rural communities with populations below 3000 are eligible for assistance to establish an RTC. However, the program will also be open to other towns with a strong case for assistance.
This is a question that we get asked on a regular basis. We do not recommend one web developer on their own rather would prefer to give you the choice from the four companies we have had some dealings.
- Peak Hour (www.peakhour.com.au)
- Biziworks (www.biziworks.com.au)
- Harvestroad (www.harvestroad.com.au)
- Business in a Box (www.businessinabox.com.au)
There is no use having a beautiful website which no one ever sees. After all that time, effort and money you are surely going to want to show it off. This can be done through the use of the following tools:
- Search engines
- Word of Mouth
- inFARMation local directory
The inFARMation local is currently being developed to produce a list of local town sites. This will mean that
- your site can be easy found.
- Increases the communication between communities, people are able to see what and how other people in their community are involved and how they can become involved themselves.
- Help to improve business exposure, entries will be searchable and therefore will be able to be seen by interested parties in surrounding areas.
Your town can become listed on the inFARMation local directory easily by visiting www.infarmation.com.au and then filling out the simple registration form. If you need any further information please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.