‘Left behind’ without NBN

THE operations manager of a local testing laboratory holds grave fears the region will be “left behind” if the federal government fails to connect Tamworth to the National Broadband Network.

Stephanie Cameron says accredited soil-testing company East West Enviroag has grown exponentially over the past two years, after implementing a comprehensive digital strategy.

But plans to further augment the business are being held hostage, following the Coalition’s decision to scrap Labor’s fibre-to-the-home rollout and rely on fibre to the node, using Telstra’s existing copper network.

“If we can’t match the speeds of broadband in the city areas, we will be left behind the eight ball,” Mrs Cameron said.

“It’s all about a level playing field and if we can’t keep up with technology then that’s gone.

“If we can’t offer the same level of professionalism as they do in the city, even though we offer great service, clients will go elsewhere.”

Since going digital, Mrs Cameron said the Tamworth-based laboratory, which offers a range of on-site and off-site geotechnical, agricultural and environmental services, had seen a “massive boost in sales”.

“We have probably had a 200 per cent increase in turnover in the past two years and about a 15 per cent increase in the past six months with our Google AdWords campaign,” she said.

“At the moment we are not limited by our local region ... we get samples from all over Australia ... but if we cannot upload and download reports and results as fast as those businesses in the city, we can’t compete.”

Mrs Cameron said if Tamworth was not given the same broadband speeds as its metropolitan counterparts, businesses would be “penalised” and regional growth would suffer as a result.

“It will stop people from moving to regional areas, because they’ll think they’ll be living back out in the boondocks,” she said.

“New business growth in the region will also be affected ... there are a lot of consequences.”

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