Australian households will be around $3,800 a year better off in 2020 thanks to super-fast broadband like Labor's National Broadband Network (NBN), according to new research.

Independent forecaster Deloitte Access Economics, which was commissioned by the Government to evaluate the benefits high-speed broadband would bring to families, notes the NBN will help make the nation a "fully digital economy".

Its report found households will reap the benefits of a boosted e-commerce industry, more online services, greater employment opportunities and savings in travel time and money.

"Our estimate is average annual household benefits will be worth around $3,800 in 2020, in current dollars," the report said.

"Around two-thirds of these benefits ($2,400) are financial benefits, the rest are the equivalent monetary value of consumer benefits such as travel time savings and convenience of e-commerce."

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The report found Australians would see higher quality goods and services at lower prices "as businesses take up new productivity-boosting applications of the digital economy".

It also found speedy broadband would allow more people to work from home, leading to reduced travel costs, higher workforce participation and more jobs - particularly for those in regional areas.

In a joint media statement issued by Labor, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Communications Minister Anthony Albanese hailed the report.

"This report demonstrates that the NBN will not only transform the Australian economy and improve our national competitiveness, but will also directly benefit every family in the country," they said.

"Federal Labor is building the NBN because it is so important for Australia's future prosperity.

"Tony Abbott will cut the NBN, just like he will cut the SchoolKids bonus, cut health funding, and cut increases in superannuation payments.

"When it comes to super-fast, affordable and reliable broadband, only Federal Labor will do it once, do it right, and do it with fibre."

The NBN Co is using a technology called 'fibre to the premises', which goes all the way to a home, to build most of the network.

The Coalition has said it would continue to roll out fibre optic cable but unlike Labor's $37.4 billion plan, it would not extend right up to the house.

Instead, it would rely on Telstra's existing copper wire network to connect to premises. It says this method is faster and cheaper, but it will come with slower speeds.

The report notes that in 2020, download speeds for high-speed broadband would be anywhere between 25 and 100 mega bits per second, or even 1 gigabit per second.

It says fibre to the premises (FTTP) systems like the NBN will likely be capable of achieving this.

However, Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has also pledged that 25 mbps would be the minimum speeds achieved under the Coalition's policy.

Deloitte Access Economics also used scenarios provided by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to weigh up how high-speed broadband would impact different types of households.

It found a single person aged over 75 could be up to $7,000 better off each year because improved access to online health services may reduce the number of doctor visits needed and keep them out of an aged care home.

A university student aged under 25 with a casual job could access education online, and thus live at home, saving around $5,000 in 2020.

A single-income couple that runs a small business and has two children could be more than $7,000 a year better off due factors including boosted productivity and better education opportunities for their children.

"The type of impacts varies between different household scenarios. For example, for some there are significant financial benefits, but only modest time-saving benefits," the report said.

"In other situations, households may be out of pocket financially, but this may be more than compensated by other benefits.

"Further, there are a range of time factors to consider: in the single year of 2020 benefits may be low, but there can be significant long-term benefits, such as from additional earnings through education."

The report's analysis was based on gross domestic product (GDP) and the number of households in Australia in 2013.

"It does not look at forecast GDP or population estimates in 2020, as these would be influenced by a number of factors other than high-speed broadband," the report notes.

The authors also say their report is not a cost-benefit analysis of high-speed broadband, and "does not include analysis of the capital or operational costs of broadband networks".

 

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