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Close to a fifth of all res­i­dents in Nar­ro­gin, Katan­ning and Brook­ton do not have ac­cess to the in­ter­net, ac­cord­ing to re­cently pub­lished re­search.

Narrogin Observer - - Front Page - Michael Traill

Close to a fifth of all res­i­dents in Nar­ro­gin, Katan­ning and Brook­ton do not have ac­cess to the in­ter­net, ac­cord­ing to re­cently pub­lished re­search.

A study by the Bankwest Curtin Eco­nom­ics Cen­tre found that 20.4 per cent of house­holds in Brook­ton, 18.7 per cent in Katan­ning and 18.5 per cent in Nar­ro­gin do not have ac­cess to the in­ter­net.

BCEC di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Alan Dun­can said the “dig­i­tal di­vide” was deep­en­ing and those who could not af­ford new com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies or were chal­lenged by lo­ca­tion and local in­fra­struc­ture were most at risk.

“Ac­cess to the in­ter­net has in­creased in Aus­tralia over the past 10 years, with 90 per cent of house­holds now con­nected,” he said.

“How­ever, as more es­sen­tial ser­vices in­clud­ing health care, bank­ing and gov­ern­ment ser­vices move on­line, those that are not con­nected face greater risk of fall­ing on the wrong side of the dig­i­tal di­vide.”

Small re­gional busi­nesses are also at risk, with 25 per cent of small busi­nesses in the Wheat­belt rat­ing their in­ter­net in­fra­struc­ture “low qual­ity” com­pared to only 11 per cent in Perth.

Nar­ro­gin Cham­ber of Com­merce ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Kerry Bryant said a lack of a “dig­i­tal foot­print” could hurt local busi­nesses.

“A lot of busi­nesses don’t have a dig­i­tal foot­print them­selves,” she said.

“A t the very min­i­mum, they should have a web page that (acts) like a busi­ness card.

“It in­creases your po­ten­tial for clien­tele if they can find you on­line.

“If you’re not on (the in­ter­net), you’re miss­ing out on a per­cent­age of peo­ple find­ing you.”

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