Regional Victoria is suffering an infrastructure crisis with163,000 homes and businesses without access to broadband, accordingto Victorian Minister for Information and Communication Technology,Marsha Thomson.

A new report, commissioned by the state government, has revealedthat almost 44,000 regional Victorian homes and businesses who wantbroadband cannot access it, almost 24,000 more than in 2003.

Thomson said most of the people missing out on broadband live inregional or rural Victoria.

The government’s Higher Bandwidth Incentive Scheme, funded underthe federal A$1.1 billion (US$839,613,000) Connect Australiapackage, provides regional areas with broadband access atmetropolitan rates.

The package includes the A$878 million Broadband Connectprogram, and the A$113 million Clever Networks program.

However, the Bracks government believes current programs are notworking and a more flexible model should be adopted.

The full report Spend/Demand Telecommunications in Regional andRural Victoria can be found online at the government’s BroadbandAccess Office –