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Australia launches new broadband laboratory in Melbourne

(Xinhua)

14:01, September 28, 2011

MELBOURNE, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy on Wednesday launched the Australian Broadband Applications Laboratory (ABAL) at the University of Melbourne.

According to State Victorian Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips, the launch of ABAL is a great outcome for Victoria as it will encourage broadband innovation by Australian businesses.

The new ABAL allows businesses wanting to explore new online opportunities to use the laboratory to test and develop their ideas in a real-life environment. It also provide a one-stop-shop to assess end-user reactions to new services and applications.

By replicating the high-speed national broadband network (NBN) set-up, businesses will also be able to test new service offerings over the NBN.

Gillard said the roll out of NBN will encourage more people to work from home and make it easier to live and work in rural and regional Australia.

She noted that information technology drives 78 percent of productivity gains in services businesses and 85 percent in manufacturing.

"The NBN will make Australia the most connected continent on the planet," Gillard told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

ABAL is available for all Australian businesses to use for a fee for service. Initially employing two employees, it is expected that ABAL's staff will grow to around 10 employees by 2014.

Meanwhile, the latest Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report ranked Australia 18th for broadband penetration among member nations, and Senator Conroy said the government want the nation to be ranked in the top five OECD countries for the percentage of businesses and not-for-profits using the Internet to drive productivity.

Senator Conroy said the NBN would change the way Australians live and work, and by 2020 at least 12 percent of Australian employees will have an arrangement to work from home for at least part of the week.

The 34.8 billion U.S. dollars NBN is expected to cover to 93 percent of homes, schools, hospitals and workplaces across Australia and to be complete by 2020.

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